Middleburgh OKs plan to study Huntersland wind


By Patsy Nicosia

Middleburgh’s Joint Planning Board has accepted as complete an application from Borrego Solar to put a wind measuring tower—MET--on Lawton Hollow Road.
The tower is the first step in an already controversial two-turbine, five-megawatt project proposed by Borrego on land owned by Fred and Barbara Echtner.
Imagine something the height of Vroman’s Nose looming over the Schoharie Valley from any one Middleburgh’s hillsides, neighbor Gus Wade, who lives on Gridley Road, told the JBP Tuesday.
Because Vroman’s Nose sits 640 feet above Route 30; that’s just a little higher than the 600-foot turbines will be.
Mr. Wade said he’s worried that by accepting Borrego’s application for the MET, the Planning Board is in effect approving the project.
But they’re too different things, Planning Board members said.
And though there was discussion about tabling the application for the MET until at least tonight’s Middleburgh Town Board meeting, in the end they voted to accept it.
“I think if we have a complete application, we have to accept it,” Denise Lloyd said.
The application now goes to the County Planning Commission and then back to the Planning Board for a public hearing Tuesday, November 9, 7:30pm at the Ambulance Shelter Building.
The MET—essentially a 197-foot pole with a small building—requires a special use permit with a $500 application fee. also granted Tuesday.
If the application for the turbines moves ahead, Borrego will be required to set up a $7,500 escrow account that the Planning Board can tap into for things like studies and consultants.
Borrego rep Dominick Arico said they’ll need 12-18 months of data to determine whether there’s enough wind for the turbines.
But they won’t wait till they have that information to proceed; they’ll begin working on the turbine application after November’s public hearing.
“The process of getting a turbine approved is a year in itself,” he said.
And they will be seeking approval for two; just one turbine wouldn’t make sense economically.
However, Mr. Wade has identified an oversight in the Zoning Code Rewrite approved in May after four years of work:
It doesn’t specify a maximum height for industrial wind turbines, just a maximum height of 180 feet for small-scale turbines.
He suggested a 200-foot maximum height for industrial turbines.
That won’t work, Mr. Arico said—for anyone.
It’s possible the town could establish a moratorium on industrial wind tonight while it considers the maximum height restriction as a way to gather information and then amend the Zoning Code.
At the height Borrego is proposing, Mr. Wade said, “You’ll be able to see these towers 15-30 miles away. Put Vroman’s Nose on that hill and that’s what it would look like. You’re not protecting those of us who live in Huntersland.”