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Worth aims for wind law adoption in May

WORTH – The Town Council plans to adopt a law regulating wind farm siting by May should it face no opposition, according to the town supervisor.

Judith A. Nichols said officials have spent about a year crafting its wind energy facilities law as developer Avangrid Renewables plans to build a portion of its Mad River Wind Farm in the town. The board held a public hearing March 7, and will hold another in April and its last one in May.

“If no one is objecting to the law, it will be passed,” she said.

The 48-page law contains six articles of regulations concerning scope, application materials for the Town Planning Board to review and other aspects of siting for large-scale wind projects, residential turbines and wind measurement towers.

The law, if passed, would limit turbine height for projects that would generate more than 100 kilowatts of electricity to 400 feet. Developers would also have to erect turbines and components away from property lines, structures and roads at a distance of five times their height. The law also requires developers not to locate their facilities in areas that would produce electromagnetic interference with radar and various communication technologies.

Commercial wind farm turbines would also not be allowed to emit noise louder than 35 A-weighted decibels from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 25 A-weighted decibels from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. According to the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies, 35 A-weighted decibels equate to a level of sound ranging between a watch ticking and a small theater, and 25 A-weighted decibels would be similar to the sound of a quiet home or office.

The law also includes requirements for traffic routes, lighting, safety, construction debris and solid waste cleanup and decommissioning.

“We were also worried about what would happen if they got sick of (the turbines), so we have it in our law that they have to take care of them,” Mrs. Nichols said, adding that the law is “in-depth, but it covers – we feel it covers every aspect.”

The law allows the Town Planning Board to issue waivers to developers for application materials to the town, but not for the regulations themselves, said the town’s attorney, David B. Geurtsen of Conboy, McKay, Bachman & Kendall LLP. He said developers might be able to receive a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals for siting requirements, but it would depend on whether their requests would be classified as either area or use variances.

Mrs. Nichols said much of the regulations in the law were driven by the board’s desire to protect the town’s resources like the Tug Hill Aquifer, creeks for fishing, woods for hiking and the scenic beauty. She also said she wanted to prevent the possibility of declining property values or infrasound from turbines hurting people’s ears, although she was unsure whether that would occur.

“We want to protect not only the people, but the town itself; our land,” she said.

Avangrid has planned to build its 350-megawatt wind farm within a 20,000-acre plot of working forest in the towns of Worth and Redfield it leased from WoodWise Land Co. The project will include 88 turbines and be connected to the Volney-Marcy 345 kilovolts transmission line.

Mrs. Nichols said the board wants the developer to pay full taxation when it builds its wind farm, following suit with Jefferson and Oswego counties.

“I’m still iffy (about Avangrid’s project), shall you say. I think the more I look into the thing with the windmills, I’m kind of leaning away from it,” Mrs. Nichols said. “I love it up here. I love everything about the country up here. It’s peaceful. It’s beautiful.”

Redfield adopted its wind law in December, said Town Clerk Susan Hough.

Supervisor Tanya M. Yerdon could not be reached for comment.