CLAYTON – Numerous development concerns, in addition to proposed wind turbine construction, have led the Town Council to consider foregoing a standalone wind law in favor of additional zoning regulations and a state scenic-area designation Wednesday at its next meeting.
Town Supervisor David M. Storandt Jr. said the Town Council will review its proposed amendment 40 to the zoning ordinance meant to regulate the application process, height, setbacks and removal of “tall structures.” Tall structures are considered anything taller than 35 feet and may include wind turbines, telecommunications towers, church steeples, barns and amusement and carnival rides.
The board will also review Local Law No. 2 of 2017, which will only serve as a tool to repeal all previous local wind laws, Mr. Storandt said.
The board last fall considered implementing a new wind law, Local Law No. 5, but Mr. Storandt said the board favored expanding their zoning ordinance to provide more in-depth regulations for all tall structures to create a more cohesive zoning ordinance that followed the new town and village comprehensive plan, which both boards adopted in February. Should the board adopt Amendment 40, it would withdraw its proposed local law.
“By addressing all tall structures, it gives us a broad brushstroke to make sure all nuisances of tall structures are addressed regardless of function,” Mr. Storandt said. “Anything that obstructs the clear sky mandate of the comprehensive plan.”
The amendment, if passed, would require developers who want to build tall structures to apply for a special use permit from the Joint Planning Board and for an area variance from the Joint Zoning Board of Appeals for structures taller than 250 feet.
According to the amendment, tall structures with no moving parts must be set back from the property line by one-and-a-half times their height, but structures with moving parts larger than one meter must be set back five-and-a-half times their height. Structures with moving parts larger than one meter are also not permitted within four miles of the high mark of the St. Lawrence River, which includes the French Creek Basin or within 2,000 feet of the hamlet residential district, according to the amendment.
“There are still areas not excluded by other planning documents that would be eligible from tall structures,” Mr. Storandt said. “If a developer wants to challenge each figure, they could and they’d have to provide justification.”
The amendment would also prevent developers from building tall moving structures within 2,000 feet of the town’s Chaumont River Corridor Waterfront Revitalization Area, which encompasses the section of the Chaumont River Corridor in the town. The proposed amendment would incorporate the new area in several sections of the zoning ordinance and repeal the Wind Energy Facility Overlay District.
“The Wind Energy Facility Overlay District did not have any direct support in the comprehensive plan,” Mr. Storandt said.
The board will also reconsider applying for a Scenic Area of Statewide Significance designation through the state Department of State, which would require proposed waterfront projects near the St. Lawrence River to undergo a state-led review under the New York State Coastal Management Program.
While members of the previous town board in 2015 withdrew their participation from pursuing a designation with several municipalities along the St. Lawrence River, Mr. Storandt said growing concerns for Avangrid Renewables’ proposed Horse Creek Wind Farm project and having a new comprehensive plan encouraged the board to reconsider applying for a designation solely for the town.
Councilman Lance J. Peterson, who was appointed to the board in February, said he felt having the state conduct additional review for larger projects under the SASS would ensure that those projects complied with the town’s zoning ordinance, comprehensive plan and goals such as increasing tourism.
“Upon further review, it looked like it would be great for the town in general,” he said.
The board will also review Local Law No. 1 of 2017, which will allow Zoning and Code Enforcement Officer Richard A. Ingerson or a subdivision inspector to approve simple minor subdivisions, amendment 39 to the zoning ordinance, which would add new definitions, and Local Law No. 3 of 2017, which would amend the town’s dog control law.
“We’re looking forward to getting some of these behind us so we can start moving forward on other projects,” Mr. Peterson said.
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