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Town turbine law on track for adoption

The Lockport town board held a public hearing Wednesday on a proposed noncommercial Wind Energy Conversion Systems law.

Town Attorney Michael Norris has said that over the past couple of years there have been instances in which residents wanted to install these systems, but the town presently does not regulate them.

If approved, the 10-page local law will require wind turbines to be less than 165 feet tall and limit their placement to agricultural, agricultural-residential and industrial land zones. Those who wish to install a wind turbine may be granted a special permit after formal environmental review by the town planning board, plus site plan approval and issue of a building permit.

The WECS law would impose a limit of two turbines on any property and require a minimum of 10 acres per turbine, according to Norris. Also, it would state that all power produced by the turbines can be used only for on-site consumption.

There were two speakers at Wednesday’s public hearing, both favoring WECS and their benefits.

The proposed law will go before the Niagara County Planning Board on May 16. If that board OK’s it, the town board would adopt the law at its May 18 work session or its June 8 monthly business meeting.

Existing non-commercial WECS in the town would be grandfathered. Commercial WECS are banned in the town of Lockport.

The town board is also looking at adopting a local law to govern siting of solar energy systems. The types under review are building-mounted, ground-mounted, rooftop-mounted and utility-scale systems.

Rooftop-mounted systems would be permitted in all zoning districts in the town.

Ground-mounted systems would be permitted in agricultural, local business, general business, planned unit development and industrial use districts. They would also be allowed in agricultural-residential, single- and multifamily residential, and manufactured home park use districts, if the lot on which the system is located is bigger than two acres.

Utility-scale systems would be permitted in agricultural and agricultural-residential use districts only.

A public hearing on the 12-page proposed solar energy systems law will take place at 7:30 p.m. June 8. The board could adopt the law on the same night. The county planning board is set to review the language on May 16.