February 12, 2017
New York

Town council reviews three sets of wind law revisions

By Marcus Wolf | Watertown Daily Times | February 12, 2017 | www.watertowndailytimes.com

ORLEANS – The Town Board will review new proposed amendments for its local wind law and determine which of them will best protect the town’s interests during the state Article 10 law review process.

Town Supervisor Kevin R. Rarick supplied three sets of provisions to a law that regulates wind energy facility placement to protect public health and safety to Town Board members Thursday during their monthly meeting. Mr. Rarick said Town Board members will review all three sets and decide which one to revise and potentially implement at their next meeting March 9.

“I think there will be adjustments to whatever one is picked,” he said. “

The first set contains amendments the board previously reviewed that would increase decommissioning, property analysis and water quality regulations for wind energy facility developers to receive town approval for their projects.

The second set built off of the first with provisions that established setback and noise standards to prevent excessive noise from turbines.

The third set also built off of the first, but instead of noise setbacks, it contains a list of exhibits from state Article 10 law the town would also require from developers.

“A lot of people addressed additional concerns,” said James A. Burrows, an attorney from Conboy, McKay, Bachman and Kendall LLP who represents the Town Board. “(We will) make amendments one way or another.”

Mr. Rarick said the board focused on revising the law’s noise section because his residents said it needed more updates than any other section.

The revised noise section proposed in the second set adopted the International Organization for Standardization’s noise regulations, which establish a general rural noise limit of 45 A-weighted decibels, or dBAs, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 35 dBAs from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. for the town. The standard also reduces that maximum noise limit developers must follow by 5 dBAs for certain tones, low and infrasound.

Mr. Rarick said the majority of the proposed noise provisions were written based on suggestions from Charles E. Ebbing, a retired acoustic engineer from LaFargeville. Mr. Burrows said he was concerned about creating noise provisions based on a standard rural noise limit and not one created by studying the town.

“It seems like the number one problem is noise,” Mr. Rarick said.

The third set includes eight of the state’s required studies for the Article 10 review process including studies about public health and safety, noise and vibration, geology water resources and visual impacts.

Both Mr. Rarick and Mr. Burrows said by including these required studies, which state agencies already need to review a project, they hope that should a developer challenge its law’s authority, the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment will be less likely to decide that it’s “unduly burdensome.” They also said they chose those specific requirements based on public comments.

“If we use those in our provisions, that will make us much more bullet-proof,” Mr. Burrows said.

Board members have discussed wind law revisions for about seven months.

The board established moratorium on wind energy facility applications in April for more time to prepare its wind law before any developer could submit a formal project application for siting board review. The moratorium expired in December.

“We haven’t decided on which route we’re going to take,” Mr. Rarick said. “I think there’s still a little work that can be done.”

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URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2017/02/12/town-council-reviews-three-sets-of-wind-law-revisions/