A proposed wind turbine on a farm in Clarence has neighbors worried about the effects it may have on their health and property values.
Thompson Brothers Greenhouse, at 8850 Clarence Center Road, will go before the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday night requesting a 73.5-foot variance – exceeding the town’s 60-foot structure height limit – in order to erect a 133.5-foot wind turbine to be used to power the greenhouses.
The Thompson Brothers property is surrounded by hundreds of single-family homes in multiple subdivisions. Mill Creek Drive resident Donna Baia said she has been advocating against the turbine since last summer.
“The issue here is the height,” Baia said. “Sixty feet is the maximum height allowed in the town. And another issue here is the location. The proposed site is in the middle of a residential area. A wind turbine of this size and proportion does not belong in a residential neighborhood.”
Baia said she and some of her neighbors believe the turbine will produce noise pollution 24 hours a day. She also cited health studies that allegedly connect wind turbines to sleep issues and headaches. The depreciation of property values because of the turbine was also of concern.
Baia is now part of a group of concerned residents who have retained an attorney to fight the turbine as proposed. But Thompson Brothers owner Dawn Trippie said the turbine will be protected under Right to Farm laws.
“The Department of Agriculture and Markets is 100 percent behind this project,” Trippie said. “I went to them to make sure we weren’t asking for anything out of the ordinary.
“It is considered a piece of farming equipment by the Department of Agriculture. We’re grandfathered into agricultural laws.”
Trippie said she has received some positive feedback from nearby residents regarding the turbine but understands that not many have come out to meetings to officially give their endorsement.
“I am not pushing anyone to come out and support us because the board will honor the law. I don’t want to create a neighbor versus-neighbor controvers y,” she said. “People across the street have come in and said they were happy we’re here and happy to be our neighbors.”
Trippie said neighbors should want the turbine as high as possible because the higher they are, the less noise they make. And she disagreed with Baia’s assessment that turbines cause health problems.
“If they’re as dangerous as they say they are, why would the town allow Kelkenberg to put up two of them where they offer educational tours to little kids?” she asked.
Kelkenberg Farms on Wolcott Road received approval for two turbines last September.
Baia suggested Thompson Brothers explore other energy alternatives such as solar panels. When the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting takes place at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, she and her neighbors will be in attendance to let the board know their opposition.
“Thompson Brothers need to be respectful of the residents that live nearby, and that’s just not happening,” Baia said. “This would basically be in my backyard. I am just a few houses down from the proposed site. It would definitely have a direct impact on my family.”
Trippie said the closest property to the turbine owned by a non-family member of the greenhouses would be at least 600 feet away.
“The residents bought their houses around a working farm,” she said. “Now they’re trying to make a working farm go away.”
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