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July 14, 2012

 

Towns drafting wind ordinances

Regulations will dictate setbacks for 50 turbines proposed in 4 towns

By CATHERINE WILDE
Staff Reporter
cwilde@cortlandstandard.net

With environmental documents for a proposed wind farm in Cortland County now available for review, the four towns that will have turbines are in various stages of drafting ordinances that will govern the project.
The public has a chance to give its feedback on the documents prepared by the United Kingdom-based TCI Renewables, while the towns must draft laws governing the project.
TCI has proposed building about 50, 500-foot wind turbines in Cortlandville, Solon, Homer and Truxton.
The public has not yet given feedback on the documents, available on the county website, at the county office building, in the public library and each of the four town halls, said Legislature Clerk Jeremy Boylan.
The county has scheduled a meeting July 23 to give the public an opportunity to comment on the project.
The public has until Aug. 3 to submit comments.
TCI is seeking a comprehensive set of laws to abide by when implementing the project. But each town is still in different stages of drafting such laws.
Cortlandville Town Supervisor Dick Tupper said Town Attorney John Folmer is reviewing a draft wind ordinance provided by the town’s Albany-based engineering firm Clough Harbour & Associates.
The town will release the document to the public in about two weeks, said Tupper.
Tupper said the firm has suggested setback distances but he would not say what distances are proposed.
TCI has proposed 1,600-foot setbacks between towers and residences, 738 feet between turbines and roads, 738 feet between turbines and non-participating property lines and 200 feet between turbines and water bodies. Setback distances between turbines and communication towers will be decided on a case-by-case basis, said TCI Project Manager Gareth McDonald.
Cortlandville is slated for seven turbines, Homer slated for eight, Solon slated for 22 and Truxton 11.
Tupper thinks the other towns will likely review Cortlandville’s ordinance to use as a guideline in drafting their laws.
Solon has a draft ordinance, according to McDonald, but Solon town officials did not return phone calls for comment. Truxton town officials were also unavailable for comment.
Homer Town Supervisor Fred Forbes said the town is waiting to see the SEQR process unfold with the county, which is the lead agency on the project.
“I don’t think the towns are going to try to draft anything until we see some motion going forward from the county,” Forbes said.
He said discussing the details of a wind ordinance is premature.
The July 23 meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the county office building auditorium. The public can give input on all aspects of the environmental review. For example, people can suggest more comprehensive bird, bat or wind studies or air concerns about any risk to the landfill liner.
A more general public comment period will be held at a later date, when the public can give feedback about other aspects of the project beyond environmental.
After the public comment period closes Aug. 3, the county has another 30 days from that time to review those comments and respond to TCI with feedback about its draft environmental study.
When TCI gets that response in September it will then begin preparing its draft environmental impact statement, which it hopes to turn in to the county later in the fall, McDonald said.
When the county deems that draft environmental impact statement suitable for public comment, a 60-day period for public comment on that document and a public hearing will begin.
McDonald said the firm will work with the towns.
“We would like the town laws to be common ... so that setback distances or regulations won’t differ between the four towns but if need be we will work with all the towns separately and abide by each town’s setbacks,” McDonald said.

 

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