BURKE – Health concerns and aesthetics were among the concerns raised Tuesday at a public hearing on the town of Burke’s plans to craft a local law governing the placement of wind turbines in the town.
Residents of the town and neighboring communities spoke both for and against the possible siting of wind turbines in the town. Opponents raised questions about the effects of the turbines on health, while supporters noted the economic benefits of serving as a host community.
There are currently no announced plans for the development of wind towers in Burke, but town officials have said they want to be prepared in the event a developer approaches them about a wind project. Noble Environmental Power has a wind farm in the neighboring town of Chateaugay and EDP Renewables has announced plans to revive the long-dormant Jericho Rise wind project in Chateaugay and the town of Bellmont.
Among the opponents raising concerns about the health impacts of wind towers were Churubusco residents Rose and Chad Garrow, who said the turbines in their community have had a negative impact on them and their neighbors.
“A law has to be made to protect people from the letter A to letter Z,” Chad Garrow told Burke officials. He also told the Town Board members that his wife cannot sleep at night and they have encountered health issues due to the turbines.
Rose Garrow told the board that she could hear the noise of the wind turbines at the Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone and at Champlain Valley Physician’s Hospital in Plattsburgh. She said she was told that 60 decibels can make a person deaf and that the wind towers generate 50 decibels.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration limits worker exposure to 90 decibels for an eight-hour day. The agency says 60 decibels is the level of a normal conversation.
Rose Garrow also said the nearby turbines create a vibration in her house. “I cannot sleep because of the vibration” she said.
Chad Garrow said his house is almost completely paid for, but he plans to sell it and move out of the area to escape the effects of the wind turbines. “I will go into debt again to get away from the wind turbines” he said.
He urged the board to look at more than just the revenues hosting a wind farm can generate.
Another resident who declined to give his name said he did not want the Burke landscape to be dotted with windmills. “I have been around them,” he stated, “and I want to keep Burke the way it is … I like my view the way it is.”
Brandon resident Anne Britton also raised the issue of aesthetics. “Why do you want your town to look like Chateaugay?” she asked.
Britton also told the board that the turbines are a health hazard and spoke of people leaving their houses to get away from the turbines.
Supporters of wind towers also voiced their opinions to the board, citing the positive economic effects of hosting wind towers. One resident stated “It may not be perfect, but when automobiles came in, they were met with a lot of opposition. Refinements must be made. I applaud your efforts to explore the possibilities.”
Several speakers raised concerns about board members having a conflict of interest when it comes to the wind turbines. Britton said every board member had a conflict of interest and that in some indirect way they have benefitted from wind turbines.
Burke resident Dave Legacy noted that Councilman William Wood was not sitting with the other members of the board at Tuesday’s hearing. Town Attorney Nathan Race had previously said Wood had a conflict of interest related to the wind towers because he has publicly stated he would like to have them on his property because of the financial benefits.
Town residents Susan Gerow and Beth Lubold both told the board members that they were doing a great job and that they supported some sort of regulations being adopted to govern wind farm development in Burke. “We need something to protect us,” she said.
The board took no action Tuesday night. Supervisor David Vincent noted that the hearing was simply to gather information on public sentiment before the board moves forward.
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