MAHLON R. PERKINS, P.C.
Attorneys and Counsellors at Law
11 South Street
P.O. Box 27
Dryden, New York 13053
MAHLON R. PERKINS TELEPHONE (607) 844-9111
To: Town Board
From: Mahlon R. Perkins
Date: April 13, 2006
Re: Renewable Energy Ordinance
Last week, Dan Kwasnowski asked me to review a Renewable Energy Conversion Systems Ordinance (ordinance) he drafted. I attempted to review it, but found it so incomplete and disjointed that I recommended to the Supervisor that the Board follow a different course of action. My recommended course of actions differs from Dans, since his presupposes allowing wind generators and the adoption of regulations.
I suggest that prior to even attempting to draft an ordinance, introduce it to the public, or schedule a public hearing, that the matter be referred to the Conservation Board and/or the Planning Board for their thoughtful review, analysis and recommendation. These boards should advise the Town Board on such issues as Dan lists in his memo under Environmental and Public Safety Issues. I believe they should also address the fundamental issue of whether there is enough wind in the Town to warrant permitting these towers. My unscientific investigation of the matter leads me to believe that you need sustained winds of approximately 15 mph to warrant investing in wind generation of electricity. The wind maps I looked at show that the only places such winds occur are on a few ridgelines, which would mean towers extending significantly above the ambient tree height. This will require a fundamental policy decision by the Town Board, since the aesthetics will impact more than the owner and the immediate neighbors.
There is likely to be a significant amount of public controversy when residents learn that towers up to 150 feet in height, with rotors extending even higher, may be permitted so a neighbor can generate part of their personal electrical needs. There was a large hue and cry to regulate the cell towers when that industry was expanding. Residents did not want a proliferation of towers lining the ridgelines, or in residential neighborhoods. What resulted is our Telecommunications Tower Ordinance, which restricts the number of towers by requiring co-location and not allowing any tower taller than is absolutely necessary. The adoption of an ordinance which would allow a significant number of towers for wind generation of electricity to be built flies directly in the face of the expressed intent of the previous Town Board in limiting the number of towers in the viewscape in order to control the aesthetic impacts associated with towers that exceed the ambient tree height.
I suggest that the Town Board first determine whether there is widespread interest in the community to warrant allowing the installation of expensive wind generators or whether the requests are from only a few residents. It seems the Planning Board and/or the Conservation Board may be in a better position to gauge the public sentiment surrounding this matter before the Town Board drafts an ordinance without any prior study of the matter. It is not good government to react too quickly to every new fad, or to change the status quo for a few at the expense of many without good, sound and compelling reasons.
In any event, the ordinance which Dan prepared is not ready to be introduced or exposed for public comment.
If the Board wants to take some action to clarify the Towns policy, then it could adopt a temporary moratorium of new construction of wind generation towers pending the study, review and decision making of whether, and under what conditions, to allow such towers.
If you have any questions, please give me a call.
Cc: Henry Slater