The town of Portland is justifiably amending their wind energy facilities law. There is scheduled to be a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. at the Portland Fire Hall. These hearings are to allow the public a chance to be heard and offer guidance to our elected officials. The proposed law can be viewed at https://townofportland.org/files/Local–Law–Draft–8-20-2020.pdf
I am neither for nor against responsibly sited wind or solar energy projects.
I am, however, strongly for transparency and honesty when it comes to public projects that may affect all of us. I also believe all public bodies have a constitutionally mandated responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens first – ahead of outside investors.
First, in my opinion, the proposed law does not adequately deal with safe setbacks. Current setbacks are proposed to be 1,600 feet.
That’s the distance from the town hall to the Brocton school. Can you imagine a 42-story spinning tower that close to your home?
The Chautauqua County Health Department sent a letter to all towns recommending a 1.5-mile setback. Is that overkill? Possibly yes. But somewhere, there’s a reasonable compromise. My opinion, for what its worth, is 11 feet setback of to a residential property line for every foot of tower height. That seems fair and most importantly offers protection for our citizens without outright banning of facilities.
Secondly, the proposed law does not have standards to guarantee against loss of property value.
Such standards are included in many responsible wind laws and mandate the wind companies reimburse you if your property value suffers from nearby tower placement.
Finally, there is nothing specific in the law to measure and limit infrasound waves produced by spinning wind blades.
This is the sound we do not hear but greatly affects the health and well-being of both humans and animals. If you’ve heard the “pounding” sound when you roll down a rear car window, you’re experiencing infrasound.
The hearing will be held under strict COVID-19 precautions. Please take the time to be heard.
There is nothing more frustrating to a Town Board than lack of opinion from the public.
They want to hear from you. They want to do what’s best for Portland. But you have to guide them.
You can also send a brief (should be able to be read in under 3 minutes) letter or email to the Town Clerk. Be sure to specify it be read during the hearing process.
Dale Carlson is a Portland resident.
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