BARKER – The Somerset Town Board unanimously approved on Monday a series of changes to its zoning laws aimed at barring industrial-scale wind energy systems from being developed in the town.
The laws were passed in response to Apex Clean Energy’s preliminary proposal to construct up to 70, 600-plus-foot-tall wind turbines in this rural community along the Lake Ontario shoreline. The revised zoning laws state that proposed wind turbines are subject to height restrictions, must be set back a significant distance from many kinds of public and private infrastructure and are not to exceed certain noise levels. The new restrictions bar construction of such energy systems in nearly all zoning districts in the town.
Dozens of Apex wind energy supporters and critics turned out for a public hearing on the town’s proposed zoning law changes. The hearing stretched on for nearly two hours.
Supporters highlighted the revenue the town could gain from the project and the importance of supporting eco-friendly power sources. Critics, who significantly outnumbered supporters of the project, warned it would damage the community’s rural character, disrupt residents living nearby and wreak havoc on local bird populations.
Under Article 10 of the New York State Public Service Law, a state-appointed siting board has the power to review and permit major (25 mW or more) electric generating facilities. The siting board consists of five members of the governor’s administration and two local representatives of the area where a project is proposed.
Check back later for a fuller report on the zoning law changes.
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