LYNDONVILLE – The town of Yates held two public hearings on Thursday regarding a moratorium on wind energy facilities law and amending the Wind Energies Facilities Law of 2008.
The moratorium, according to the legal notice, “is to advance the town’s constitutional and statutory obligation to protect and preserve the public health, welfare, and safety of the citizens of the town of Yates, as well as the value, use and enjoyment of property in the town, through the temporary prohibition of the construction or modification of Wind Energy Facilities as defined in section 591.4 of the Zoning Regulations of the Town of Yates, pending review and revisions of the Yates-Carlton-Kendall Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, Town Comprehensive Plan, and Zoning Regulations.”
A majority of people spoke up at the public hearing for the moratorium.
“I ask during this time the town board begin to do extensive research into the past of Apex and demand from them how many lawsuits they have defended in the past that have involved human health issues, noise, ecology (and) environment,” said Mike Basil, of Yates. “I would also ask the board to currently, right now, ask Apex to find out how many lawsuits they are defending right now for current operations. It was already brought up these turbines are 600 feet tall. Apex is using us as guinea pigs.”
Basil said turbines that tall are for off-shore use. He added that more research is needed.
“…It’s the information that [Apex doesn’t] provide that we need to do the research on, to find out what’s really going on out in the world, and we need to use real world facts,” he said. “Research and studies is OK, but when you have real world experience out there with turbines that is existing, we need to use that data for our town to move ahead.”
However, not everyone was for the moratorium. Five people spoke up against the proposed law.
“In regards to the moratorium, it is highly unlikely that any wind energy project would come to the town board for approval in that six-month period given the current existence of Article 10,” said Dan Fitzgerald, from Lighthouse Wind’s local office in Baker. “The only likely thing to come before the board would be something like a temporary MET tower. A moratorium that prohibits processing and approval of a MET tower permit application would be invalid and beyond the legal authority because there is no public purpose to justify the exercise in authority, and in this case, single out one landowner and one applicant to carry the entire burden of the law. By the very fact the town board has specifically targeted Lighthouse Winds on this application, it is clear that is evoking its police powers to solely satisfy community opposition to the Lighthouse Wind project. As such the town board must reject the proposed local law as the moratorium is not valid.”
The second public hearing focused on amending the Wind Energy Facilities Law of 2008. The entire wind energy law can be found on the town website under legal notices, and according to the town local law filing, the purpose of the amended law is to “protect the public safety, health and welfare; to provide a regulatory structure that promotes the protection of the Town of Yates residents; to minimize the adverse impacts on the Town’s character, environment, economy and property values; and to minimize negative impacts on the unique resources including, but not limited to, the Seaway Trail, the Lake Ontario shoreline corridor and adjacent lands and waterways; the residential and farming communities of the Town and Region.”
Once again, a majority of the people who spoke up at the public hearing supported the amended 2008 local law.
“How can Apex be upset with this law? It can’t be because of property value guarantee. They repeatedly told us that our property values won’t decrease. It certainly can’t be the baseline health study. Again they repeatedly said there is no negative effects. Despite evidence to the contrary, they proclaim that the people complaining about them around the world are exaggerating what are merely annoyances,” said Donna Riggi, of Yates. “So, that leaves us with the setbacks. But the setbacks being required by the town are actually under average compared to other communities. … They’re trying to place the largest turbines ever built in an area that is too populated. The setbacks would not be a problem if that weren’t true. There are communities and even countries that have setbacks of a mile or more to protect their population. These setbacks pale in comparison. Not to mention the increasing number of communities that are now actually banning these projects all together due to the overwhelming negative effects they have. If only we had that right.”
However, seven people spoke against the proposed amendments.
“Thorough analysis of this law, which I’ll offer you, shows that it is in effect a wind ban. I’m not going to go into every point, but the 13-page analysis and several maps I’ll offer will demonstrate that this is not a thoughtful law which is open to wind energy, but instead a ban on the project,” said Taylor Quarles, from Lighthouse Winds. “I’m going to touch on these two issues in the law. Firstly it defines wind energy conversion systems as including all infrastructure and electrical lines, substations, access roads, etc. So they all apply to the setbacks named, that there is no physical way to connect the turbines to one another thus it being a ban. The second is the town’s overreaching control on the landowners property rights. The law states building permits shall not issued for new construction on the same parcel as permitted WECS, but then goes on to define a structure as walls, fences, signs, billboards, poster panels, docks or similar construction types. So the result here that any one of the landowners who own close to 9,000 acres who have chosen to participate to largely agricultural community in this area would not be able to for instance build a new barn, impoundment for a waterline agriculture property, an addition to a home, and a fence around an agricultural pad. So in my opinion this is a vast overreaching town’s standing authority that is inconsistent with the town’s comprehensive plan.”
The board didn’t take any action.
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