Trying to get approval for a residential wind turbine has been “a real nightmare,” reindeer farmer Mike Jablonski told the Hamburg Town Board during a public hearing Monday night.
The town has no regulations governing “residential” wind turbines, town planner Drew Reilly said. This means that right now, such turbines are prohibited – but the board held the hearing to discuss proposed regulations for them.
Under the proposed local law, the town would allow “wind energy conversion systems,”or WECS, on residential-agricultural property with at least 10 acres.
The turbines would have to be no higher than 140 feet, and only one would be allowed on each parcel of land.
But currently, most of the small, residential windmills being installed in the area measure a little bit higher than 153 feet, said Ryan Storke of Cazenovia Equipment, a Cazenovia-based company that installs the structures.
Jablonski wants to put up two turbines on his property on Old Lakeview Road to power his house and barn, and he got a use variance from the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals last month.
But he said he was told later that he needed another variance.
“I’ve had a business in Hamburg for 30 years, and never had a problem,” he said.
Kurt Allen, supervising code-enforcement officer, said he and Jablonski would agree it has been a difficult process.
“This has been convoluted,” Allen said. “We advised Mr. Jablonski not to make an application.”
Several members of the Zoning Board wanted to wait on the application until the town approved regulations for the windmills, but others said Jablonski put in his application before any regulations have been adopted and the board should not delay its decision.
Allen said Jablonski needs another variance because of the height of the windmills he wants to erect, which would be 153 feet tall.
Jablonski argued that the Zoning Board knew how high the turbines would be when it gave him the use variance.
In the meantime, Reilly said, the town would look at the comments and suggested changes on the proposed regulations and come back with amendments.
Although there are large wind turbines on the waterfront, there are no small, residential versions in Hamburg. Jablonski and another small-farm owner have applied for variances.