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Hammond proposes wind farm setbacks

JOHNSON NEWSPAPERS
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HAMMOND — After adopting strict noise requirements and a property buyback program, the Hammond Wind Committee is proposing setback distances that may end the possibility of a wind farm in the town.


The committee is exploring setbacks that would prevent any wind development within:


n Two miles from the St. Lawrence River and Black Lake.


n 11/2 miles from Route 12.


n 5,000 feet from the village, schools, medical centers and libraries.


n 3,000 feet from all roads, adjacent property lines and other turbines.


n 1,000 feet from wetlands.


Such setbacks would leave few parcels of land in the town on which a wind farm could be built.


During that discussion, several committee members, including Donald A. Ceresoli Jr., Richard K. Champney and Leonard D. Bickelhaupt, suggested the committee's recommendation may be to suggest that industrial wind development — proposed by Iberdrola Renewables — isn't a good fit for the town.


"If our recommendations narrow the wind overlay district down to 10 feet, no developer is going to come here," Mr. Ceresoli said. "Why not just recommend that no turbines will be allowed at all?"


"I'd vote for that," said Merritt V. Young, a staunch anti-development advocate.


Committee member Frederick A. Proven said he supported even harsher setbacks, including "no shadow flicker on nonparticipants' property."


The committee voted 9-1, with leaseholder Michele W. McQueer casting the opposing vote, to recommend noise limits proposed by sound expert Paul D. Schomer.


He proposed three separate limits for different times of the day and night, including 45 decibels between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., 40 decibels between 7 and 10 p.m. and 35 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.


The town is considering a controversial property buyback program — also approved by the wind committee — that would require Iberdrola to compensate property owners who see drops in their land values because of the presence of wind turbines.


The proposal also requires the company to buy out any property owner who objects to living near a turbine.


Iberdrola has said those rules are unworkable and threaten the viability of its proposed Stone Church Wind project.


The project has received considerable backlash in the community. Recently, the Black Lake Chamber of Commerce's president, Cara A. "Candie" Bliss, urged her members to oppose Iberdrola's project, calling it a "devastating blow" to the local economy.


The committee's final report, including all its recommendations, will be presented to the Town Council when its work is done later this year.

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