BURKE – The Burke Town Board voted Tuesday night to amend the town’s wind law to allow wind turbines of up to 725 feet in height.
The change was passed with three votes in favor, with two members of the Town Board – Town Supervisor Bill Wood and Councilman Arnold Lobdell – recusing themselves from the wind law vote due to a conflict of interest.
The amended law will change the maximum allowed height of a wind turbine within the town from 500 feet to 725 feet, with a proportional increase in the distance a turbine must be set back from the road.
Wood said at the meeting on Tuesday that the change was meant to keep up with evolving wind power technology, which is seeing larger but fewer turbines developed to capture more energy per unit than smaller turbines.
The meeting saw a large group of town residents and interested visitors attend, with several attendees speaking both for and against the amendment.
“The town of Burke could use the money,” said town resident Sue Gerold. “If I’m going to look at them, Burke should benefit.”
Supporters pointed to the extra income for farmers that can rent their land to wind power developers, as well as new revenue for the town to ease the local tax burden.
Others, including members of Burke Friends Against Rural Mismanagement (FARM), said that they were concerned about the effects of wind turbines on nearby property values and possible effects for nearby residents.
Opponents also pointed to a study commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration establishing Obstruction Height Zones around airports; the study notes that any wind turbine 600 feet above ground level should be erected outside of 7 “nautical miles” (or 8.05 land miles) away from an airport runway.
Several attendees pointed to the Malone-Dufort Airport, which was within 7 nautical miles of several locations in Burke – adding that a 725 foot tall turbine would likely have to be back even further than that.
Board member Timothy Crippen, responding to concerns about the FAA, said that it would be a company’s responsibility to clear an FAA study in order to allow turbines for a particular project.
“You’ve already decided,” said town resident Mary Moore, a law change opponent.
In response to questioning by attendees, Wood said that the law change was not prompted by any company approaching the town. He noted that there is no official project application submitted to the town, though one company – England-based Renewable Energy Systems – has approached local landowners in the area.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding