The Somerset Town Board unanimously passed laws Monday that, if enforced, would make it almost impossible for Apex Clean Energy to construct its planned wind-power project in the town.
The Virginia company, however, said it will continue to seek review of its plans through the state siting process in hopes of winning approval for its Lighthouse Wind project. The proposed project would involve up to 70 turbines, each more than 500 feet tall.
The new measures are more restrictive than Somerset’s 2016 wind power law, which limited the available locations for wind power.
Monday’s zoning amendments ban the construction of any structure taller than 150 feet; allow wind turbines only in the town’s few industrial zones; prohibit any wind turbine that would generate electricity to be sold off-site; and keep turbines as much as a mile away from other buildings.
“We are disappointed in the Town Board’s decision,” Lighthouse development manager Taylor Quarles said Tuesday. “This second revision to the town’s wind law in two years is very clearly aimed at banning residents from ever having the opportunity to benefit from a wind project.”
“The zoning amendments intend to protect health and safety and preserve the rural character of the town concerning any large-scale industrial project,” Supervisor Daniel M. Engert said. “It’s not for me to comment on the pending project from Apex’s perspective.”
Quarles said Apex has signed leases with more than 100 landowners for more than 10,000 acres in Somerset and neighboring Yates as possible turbine locations. The towns have been fighting the project for three years after both surveyed property owners and found majorities opposing the plan.
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