Philipstown Zoning Board delays decision, requests more documents
By Lois Powers
An engineering site plan coupled with a structural engineering plan have been requested by the Philipstown Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) in Garrison resident James Gleick’s appeal to raise an energy-saving wind turbine on his property at 200 Long and Winding Road off of Route 9D in Philipstown. The call for additional information was recommended at Monday night’s public hearing by ZBA Attorney Adam Rodd, citing construction of a wind turbine as a “major project” according to Philipstown Town Code that requires not only a height variance but also a special use permit with documentation to be reviewed by a town-appointed engineer.
“This is standard procedure in applying for a special use permit,” said Hudson Valley Wind Energy Project Manager Conor T. Kays, after the meeting, “and we will provide what is needed.”
Opposition to installing a wind turbine in Philipstown was the predominant theme from local residents including Manitoga and Hudson Highlands’ representatives. Vivian Linares, program director at Manitoga, The Russell Wright Design Center situated on 75 acres of historic preserved woodlands close to the Gleick property, voiced concern of “possible turbine sound vibration that might undermine the preserve’s aging building and artifact collection.”
Andrew Chmar, executive director of the Hudson Highlands Land Trust suggested the Appalachian Trail Conference, managers of the Appalachian Trail, be contacted for comment as the Appalachian Trail border abuts the proposed wind turbine site. Chmar also called for the need for clarification of the town code relevant to installation of wind turbines for future and most probable applications.
Garrison homeowner Robert Cutler presented a written handout highlighting reported wind turbine fires, bird-kills and diminishing Philipstown’s historic and individual homeowner property values. “Those are large commercial wind-farm turbines Mr. Cutler is referring to,” responded Doug Passeri, owner of Hudson Valley Wind Energy, the NYSERDA-approved company representing Gleick. “Those turbines are 200 feet high with 100-foot blades and are oil lubricated. A single residential turbine poses no such danger to the environment or to residents. It’s comparing apples to oranges.”
Perhaps surprisingly to most, the Audubon Society stands in support of the use of wind turbines (policy.audubon.org/wind-power-overview). According to statistics more birds are killed by climate change.
Setting a precedent was voiced by several speakers at the board meeting who fear wind turbines would destroy the rural appeal of Philipstown. While ZBA Chair Vincent Cestone confirmed, according to town law, any individual has the right to apply for a Special Use permit for a wind turbine on their property, Kays reassured those in attendance that not all properties would be granted NYSERDA approval, with Doug Passeri going one step further in a phone interview stating that “99 percent of those considering applications would not be granted NYSERDA certification” due to size and location of the property. “A 40-acre elevated piece of property like Gleick’s, however, is perfect,” he said.
During the meeting, Gleick and Kays respectfully acknowledged public worries and board member queries while expressing frustration over what appears to be misinformation and unfounded concerns on the public’s behalf, issues thoroughly addressed in paperwork submitted to the ZBA in the application process.
ZBA Secretary Tina Landolfi recommends all concerned Philipstown residents to view the ZBA Agenda Packets on this issue at philipstown.com.
According to Landolfi, the entire wind turbine application with detailed reports on sound, “view-shed,” safety and other pertinent details have been painstakingly recorded and can be accessed. Also, anyone may obtain copies of the records submitted to the ZBA as allowed by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIL). Landolfi encourages people to utilize these options that will answer the questions and may allay concerns expressed at the public hearings.
Photos by L. Powers