FARMERSVILLE – The 2020 Wind Energy Facilities Local Law introduced at an emergency meeting of the Farmersville Town Board on Jan. 6 faces review by the Cattaraugus County Planning Board Thursday night.
The 2020 Wind Facilities Law was introduced by a majority of the Town Board on the same day the president of Farmersville United filed a lawsuit against the town over its 2019 wind law.
That lawsuit by William A. Snyder of Rawson Road, president of Farmersville United, a group of residents opposed to elements of the proposed Alle-Catt Wind farm, called for one remedy to the legal action: void the 2019 wind law.
The 340-megawatt Alle-Catt Wind Farm would cover five towns in northern Cattaraugus and Allegany counties and the town of Arcade in Wyoming County. Up to 117 turbines would be erected.
The developer will have to post a bond for the removal of the turbines once they reach the end of their useful life. A turbine could also be required for demolition if it was inoperable for 12 months, although the developer could request a six-month extension.
Farmersville Town Board members voted 4-0 last year to adopt a wind law with a 600-foot turbine height limit. No public hearing was held before the Town Board approved the local law on Aug.19, 2019. Nor was the local law submitted to the county Planning Board as required.
Some of the provisions in the 2020 wind law include:
• Stringent sound level design – 10 dBA over ambient (background) noise.
• A 3,000-foot setback from a wind turbine to a home or property line.
• A 2,000 setback from roads.
• A 1-mile setback from churches including Amish properties which are often used for church services.
• Two times tip height – or 1,000 feet from transmission and buried gas lines.
• 1.5 miles from any bat roosts or maternity roosts.
• Sufficient setback from turbines to homes so that no more than eight hours of shadow flicker a year and one hour per month.
The Planning Board had rejected a 2018 local wind law – largely because of the size of the industrial turbines, which would be visible beyond town boundaries and was not in keeping with the county’s natural beauty. The town also failed to completely fill out the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF).
A similar wind law in the adjacent Town of Freedom was overturned in Cattaraugus County Supreme Court in December by Acting State Supreme Court Judge Terrence Parker because the town had not followed the state Open Meetings Law or Environmental Law. The town also failed to resubmit its 2018 wind law to the county Planning Board, which had initially approved it before realizing the second part of the EAF needed to be completed.
With Farmersville’s 2019 wind law voided by the Town Board, the existing wind law adopted in 2009 remains in effect. It limits tip height to 450 feet. The newly proposed law would increase the height to 455 feet.
At a public hearing on Jan. 13, comments were generally supportive of the newly proposed local law. There were complaints that the Town Board was moving the local law along too fast. Majority board members said a more protective wind law was requested by a majority of town residents in the November election and denied things were moving too fast.
There is also a property value guarantee provision in the Farmersville wind law. An applicant like the developer, Invenergy, would be required to offer a property value guarantee.
On Jan. 20, the Town Board reviewed the EAF Supervisor Francis “Pete” Lounsbury submitted.
The local law and EAF will now be reviewed by the Planning Board, which could approve it with or without additional provisions.
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