REDFIELD – Residents and attorneys argued on Friday that nine proposed local laws created to regulate wind farm development could have unintended consequences for the town’s livelihood.
“We’re throwing all of this stuff out here where we had nothing,” said John E. Cheney, Redfield. “Now we have a wind farm here and we have all of this stuff here. You’re going from one extreme to the next.”
The Town Council held a public hearing on its Wind Energy Facilities law directed toward aspects of construction such as temporary buildings, wetlands, erosion control, blasting and road use. The laws were proposed to better regulate Avangrid Renewables’ plans to build its Mad River Wind Farm on a 20,000-acre property in the towns of Redfield and Worth.
The meeting drew residents from Redfield, Boylston, Parish and Sandy Creek, who voiced concerns about how the laws, written by the town’s attorneys, Scalfone Law Pllc, could adversely affect recreation, construction and code enforcement.
Mr. Cheney, who has served on the town’s zoning commission, said he was worried he would have to obtain a permit, a $2,000 bond and proof of having $5 million in insurance, under two proposed laws, to build and take down his seasonal maple sugar shack.
Richard Palmer, Parish, said he was concerned the town’s proposed temporary-structure law would inhibit the Mad River Club, a recreational organization, in placing campers and temporary campsites on the 13,000 acres it leases from the WoodWise Land Co. The wind farm would be built on a separate parcel owned by WoodWise.
“How is that going to affect it up there if I want to erect a building up there, or if I want to bring a camper up there?” Mr. Palmer asked.
Matt P. Smith, director of operations for WoodWise, and the company’s attorney, Robert Brenner of the Nixon, Peabody law firm, voiced concerns about the proposed regulations prohibiting certain forestry operations.
Mr. Smith said he was worried about the board’s proposed road-use law inhibiting operations, and its wetlands law preventing the company from dealing with problematic beaver dams. Mr. Brenner said the proposed erosion, sediment control and stormwater law would stymie clear cutting.
“I hope it doesn’t unintentionally impact forestry,” Mr. Smith said. “As for the wind stuff, that’s for the developer to digest.”
Attorneys from the law firm representing Avangrid, Young/Sommer LLC, voiced their concerns about the proposed wind law and other laws restricting the developer’s ability to build its 350-megawatt wind farm on WoodWise’s property.
James A. Muscato II, an attorney from the firm, said restrictions like the 500-foot maximum turbine height and the decibel limit on noises audible by humans would prevent any commercial wind farm development in the town.
The attorney also argued that the law and other policies were inconsistent with the zoning ordinance crafted by the town zoning commission and would make code enforcement and decommissioning more cumbersome.
“They are sweeping regulations that go beyond anything that you had before in town,” he said. “It’s just unfortunate these nine laws do not reflect what I had previously believed as the town’s interest.”
The board also discussed a law which, if adopted, would prohibit wind energy facility development in the town near Fort Drum and the Montague weather radar facility.
The law proposed to restrict wind farm construction within 15 miles of the post’s Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield and the Montague radar. Oswego County Legislator Shawn P. Doyle, District 3, Pulaski, said the restrictions in the law coincided with the Legislature’s opinion regarding wind farm construction near the Army post.
Mr. Cheney asked why the town should allocate its resources to the post, which is supported by the federal government. Mr. Brenner said he questioned the constitutionality of the law.
“I don’t understand how we get the authority to pass such a law, because we’re not within 15 miles of Wheeler-Sack or the Montague” radar facility, said Councilwoman Elaine S. Yerdon.
The board plans to schedule another public hearing to discuss the proposed policies.
“I thought everyone was great. I thought the comments were good,” said Town Supervisor Tanya M. Yerdon. “I don’t want to restrict the town.”
■ Local Law No. 2 of 2018, Wind Energy Facilities – to regulate the placement of commercial and industrial wind energy systems to protect the public safety, health and welfare and promote the protection of the town’s residents and visitors and minimize adverse impacts on the town’s character, environment, economy and property values.
■ Local Law No. 3 of 2018, Explosives and Blasting – to establish minimum safeguards to life, health and property relating to the possession and use of explosive materials.
■ Local Law No. 4 of 2018, Demolition and Construction Waste Diversion – to establish minimum safeguards to life, health and property by adding reasonable and effective restrictions relating to the demolition of buildings, temporary buildings, facilities or structures.
■ Local Law No. 5 of 2018, Protection of Wetlands, Water Bodies, and Watercourses – to protect, reserve and conserve wetlands, water bodies and watercourses and regulate the use and development of these to secure the natural benefits of wetlands, water bodies and watercourses.
■ Local Law No. 6 of 2018, Construction and Removal of Temporary Structures – to establish minimum standards for the construction and removal of temporary structures to ensure the safety of the occupants of the structures, the health, safety, comfort and general welfare of Redfield citizens and to regulate the location, size and use of temporary structures.
■ Local Law No. 7 of 2018, Road Use and Preservation – to maintain the safety and general welfare of town residents by protecting the town’s roads.
■ Local Law No. 8 of 2018, Prohibition of Wind Energy Development Near Fort Drum and Montague Weather Station – to protect national security, the local economy and the integrity of Fort Drum, Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield and the Doppler weather radar site in Montague.
■ Local Law No. 9 of 2018, Erosion, Sediment Control and Storm Water Management – to safeguard people, protect property and prevent damage to the environment in Redfield.
■ Local Law No. 10 of 2018, Aquifer and Well Field Protection Zone – to establish, protect, preserve and promote the safe use of the existing and potential groundwater supply from adverse developmental or land use practices that may adversely affect the quality or availability of water from the town aquifers and ensure an adequate supply of suitable drinking water for Redfield residents.