April 10, 2006

Alternative energy discussion at Town Board Thursday

Apparently last week's Zoning Board of Appeals meeting went much longer than usual, with one of the issues a request for a variance to put a residential windmill at a house on Mount Pleasant. They couldn't grant it, because the current interpretation of town zoning law, which became clear last April in discussion of Cornell's now-abandoned wind farm plan, is that windmills of all kinds are prohibited because they aren't listed as allowed.

The town has been talking about adding zoning to permit residential windmills since then, notably in discussion of a model wind ordinance the town board hadn't liked, which came from the county's Environmental Management Council (EMC).

The town has been working on a new ordinance that would permit residential windmills but not industrial operations, like the one Cornell was proposing. It's on the agenda for Thursday's meeting, as item 13a, and I understand people are likely to turn out to hear about it.

Town Board member Mary Ann Sumner discusses the ordinance on the Dryden Democrats weblog:

In light of rising energy costs and environmental concerns there is growing interest in alternative energy sources. In the absence of any zoning regulation of residential wind towers, solar panels and geothermal systems, the Zoning Board has not been able to issue building permits for such projects. The proposed ordinance will establish a procedure for obtaining special use permits including environmental and visual assessment forms. The proposal will also address specific issues related to residential wind conversion systems including:

  • Distance from adjacent property
  • Tower height
  • Noise level limit
  • Lighting limitation
  • Height
  • Visibility of guy lines
  • Fencing
  • Liability insurance
  • Scenic view impact
  • Broadcast interference
  • Wildlife impact

My reading of this very early rough draft is that it will facilitate residents' use of alternative enery sources while protecting the neighborhood and environment.

(I've heard that Dryden is far from alone on this question, and that the Town of Ithaca has similar questions to resolve.)

The Dryden Town Board will meet Thursday at 7:00pm at the Dryden Town Hall (map). I'm guessing that this ordinance will take some time going through the system, as it seems likely that the Planning Board needs to review it as well.

Posted by simon at April 10, 2006 8:06 AM in , ,
Note on photos