Middleburgh finalizing wind law


By David Avitabile

As a way to be prepared for the future, Middleburgh town board members are putting the finishing touches on a wind energy facility law.
The law is based on the law drawn up by county officials and being considered by other towns and villages in the county.
Middleburgh town board members Thursday evening met with Alicia Terry, the county’s director of planning and got the answers to several questions.
They are expected to continue to work on the law next month and have a draft ready to discuss with the members of the planning board and zoning board of appeals at a joint meeting in March.
“We’re trying to address an issue that’s going to be out there,” said Supervisor Dennis Richards.
The proposed law is being eyed to regular potential industrial turbines but would also cover home and domestic devices.
There is a provision in the proposed law for small wind turbines up to 100 feet tall with a maximum output of 100 kilowatts. These turbines would have to be located on a one-acre lot with a setback at least one and a half times the height of the tower.
The town will set the fees for a tower and discussed having an exemption for smaller towers that are placed on roofs. Many of those wind turbines produce less than one kilowatt of power and board members discussed a “floor” for the exemption.
Ms. Terry said the industrial-size turbines can measure up to 280 to 290-feet and a total of 410-feet high with the blade fully extended.
For a large project, the town would require an escrow account of $7,500 to pay for engineering and other studies.
Among the studies needed for a large project would be for storm water pollution, a visual impact, a noise analysis, a geotechnical and a transportation plan.
Ms. Terry said she could provide a map of the town based on the location of potential wind turbines.
The best answer is with a picture, Ms. Terry said.
The impact could be big so the town should look at that closely, Mr. Richards said.
“This is going to be the one that could come back and haunt us,” he said.
Multiple towers are usually spaced at least 600 feet apart, Ms. Terry said.
Among the requirements under the proposed law, television, radio or other communication antennas cannot be placed on a turbine, no advertising signs are allowed on the turbine and no tower can be lit except to meet federal aviation requirements.
The developer needs to provide an operation and maintenance plan as well as a decommissioning plan that addresses the anticipated life of the turbine and costs and methods of decommissioning the project.
According to the proposal, if any wind turbine remains non-functional or inoperative for a continuous period of 12 months, the owner is to remove the system at his expense.
A wind turbine has to be maintained in operational condition at all times.
Under the proposed law, no permit is required for mechanical, non-electric wind turbine used for agricultural purposes.
Town officials could identify zones in which the large turbines could be placed and put it in the town’s zoning law or have a separate law.
Codes officer Joe Furnell said it should be a separate law so it would not conflict with the noise and height regulations in the current zoning law.
There is nothing covering wind turbines in the current zoning laws.
Town officials also have to determine whether to allow tax exemption on wind turbines.
It is likely that the town would receive funds in a payment in lieu of taxes through the Industrial Development Agency for large project, Ms. Terry said.
The town cannot exempt some turbines from property taxes and not others, she said.