ALBION – A six-month moratorium on wind energy conversion systems in Yates has received the Orleans County Planning Board’s support.
The moratorium was one of two requests by the Town of Yates.
The other request asked for an amendment to a zoning ordinance text regulating wind energy conversion systems.
The major discussion involving the six-month moratorium is if the currently proposed MET tower by Lighthouse Wind is included.
Yates currently has one MET tower constructed and one proposed.
When Edward Urbanik, the Yates alternate, asked for the reason for the second tower, Taylor Quarles from Lighthouse Winds said tower locations are chosen by a meteorologist.
“The reasoning is that the wind over an area is actually quite site-specific, so we need to take into consideration the different changes in topography, ground cover, and distance from the lake,” he said. “In this specific scenario the first MET tower, which was already approved and installed, is located relatively close to the lake. … The second MET tower which we have applied for is literally identical to the first approved tower is located well over a mile inland. So, this data is going to be gathered and then presented in a potential final application as required by Article 10.”
Town Supervisor James Simon responded to an earlier statement by Lighthouse Winds they were happy to discuss the data they gathered from the MET tower, saying Apex and Lighthouse Wind have restricted access on the data considering it proprietary.
The biggest concern regarding the zoning ordinance text amendment is if Yates goes to court defending the text, would the county also be liable.
“I think we need to address the bear in the room,” said Paul Hendel, planning board member-at-large for the east. “I believe this (zoning amendment) is a product of some campaign promises that have been made to certain individuals in the town of Yates.
“I absolutely, totally respect the Town of Yates ability and interest in passing any legislation they think that meets the needs of their individuals of their town,” he continued. “I don’t have a problem with that at all.
“I think some of the very restrictive language in here has the potential to open the town up to some significant challenges in courts,” he said. “I think as long as the town of Yates recognizes that up-front and is going to submit to the financial resources necessary to defend the challenges … I have no problem with that.”
His only concern was where the board – and the county – stand in defending itself against any legal challenges, if it approves the amended texts.
Those who support the Lighthouse Wind project claim the amended zoning law is effectively a ban on windmills, while those who oppose the project feel the zoning amendment doesn’t go far enough – especially in regards to setbacks.
Bensley said the planning board is an advisory body and not a final-action body. As a result the county planning board is not held liable for any final decisions the town makes regarding to its land use policy.
While the board allowed public comment, the statements given before the board echoed those which were given at the recent public hearing.
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