LOWVILLE – Lowville town officials will allow the Number Three Wind project to have part of its transmission line overhead – just not the roughly two-mile portion in a residential area.
Councilmen by a 5-0 vote Thursday granted a zoning waiver allowing an overhead line from the proposed wind farm’s switchyard down to Route 26; however, they required that the section between Route 26 and Route 812 be buried to address visual concerns raised by East Road residents at hearings held both last month and Thursday morning.
“Everyone knows it’s going to look like an extension cord across the valley,” East Road resident Jeff Schwan said.
Invenergy Wind North America, based in Chicago, is proposing 35 to 50 turbines in the towns of Lowville and Harrisburg, with a 115-kilovolt substation to tie into the power grid proposed on farmland owned by Earl Nolt off Route 812 just northeast of the village of Lowville. A 4.5-mile power line is to connect the substation and switchyard, and Invenergy – in a letter seeking several waivers to the town’s wind law – asked that a town requirement that power transmission lines be “located underground to the maximum extent possible” be lifted. Requiring the whole line to be underground likely would add $10 million to $15 million to project costs, the letter states.
Marguerite Wells from Invenergy said she had hoped to have a series of visual representations to show what the proposed line would look like, but they had not been completed yet.
Councilmen also approved the following wind law waivers:
■ A section limiting wind towers to areas of the town that are 1,400 feet above sea level or higher, as 16 of 20 turbines proposed in Lowville would be between 1,200 and 1,400 feet.
■ A requirement that transmission facilities be located in AG and OC zones, since portions of the transmission line are also proposed in CB, CB-R, R30-A and I-2 zones.
■ A requirement that building setbacks on towers be 1.5 times their height for a single turbine planned to be 650 feet from a hunting camp; the owner signed off on the waiver.
■ A prohibition from putting advertising signs on “any part of the wind energy facility” to ensure a company sign could be put on an operations and maintenance building off Number Three Road.
■ A requirement that fencing be placed around towers or groups of towers.
Ms. Wells again reported she has been meeting regularly with Fort Drum officials over concerns about additional turbines in the area negatively impacting radar and remains hopeful continued dialogue will lead to technical fixes so the towers and base may co-exist. While the issue has sometimes been framed as either-or, “in our view, it’s a both-and,” she said.
Brian Ashley, executive director of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, said his agency is not opposed to wind power but is concerned about anything that could negatively impact “the largest economic driver in the north country.
“Our overriding concern is the integrity and impacts on Fort Drum,” he said.
Nicholas Astafan, the town’s dog control officer, on Thursday also provided board members with some ideas for updating the town’s dangerous dog law. Mr. Astafan said he recently dealt with a situation where one dog killed another on Park Avenue, and, while the family ended up voluntarily having the dog euthanized, updating town law would make things easier if another situation like it were to arise, he said.
“I think we should have a little more bite in our ordinance,” Mr. Astafan said, requesting that councilmen and the town attorney review the proposal.
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