Readers of this paper are aware that the Zoning Board is considering an application for an $80,000 152-foot tall wind turbine in the forest along 9D that would supply about half the electricity needed by a house occupied part-time by two people. This massive structure, about 4 times what is permitted by the code, is being considered without the aid of standards in the code for something so huge that it was never contemplated. Any decision on the application, pro or con, would leave the public mostly in the dark about what will be permitted elsewhere since the board, unlike an appellate court, does not write detailed opinions.
The code wisely requires special uses deviating from the code to be screened from neighboring property and to “protect the natural, historic, and scenic resources of the town.” The applicant professes a concern (which we all share) for global warming and apparently deems an enormous, disproportionate expenditure for a tiny benefit to override the grossly inappropriate site of the turbine. The applicant can achieve his objective by buying power from Central Hudson, which is designated as having been produced at the large, properly engineered and sited wind farms upstate. Revenue which he furnishes can go toward intelligent and well thought out expansion of the facility.
Some of us in the area in the last few years have given away hundreds of thousands of dollars of development rights to ensure that the beautiful character of the town will remain protected. This project cuts in the opposite direction and threatens to open the door to indiscriminate further development. Let’s hope the applicant reconsiders and finds other ways to meet his carbon footprint reduction goals, such as cutting down the number of residences, reducing transportation, and giving the funds instead to a more appropriate environmental cause.
If this does not happen, I urge the board to make a thorough study of just how much benefit this project would actually do for the environment (no one knows what it will do until it’s up and running), consider why the applicant should be privileged to get a special dispensation, and weigh that against the unprecedented threat to the beauty of this community. There’s a lot of land in the U.S. and a lot of appropriate sites for big, efficient wind farms. We don’t need 150-foot towers popping up in one of the country’s most historic and valued locations. Let’s hope the board throws its weight behind the idea of a moratorium on turbines until the town can consider, perhaps by referendum, what it wants to allow. It’s a big subject and the public needs to be involved.
David H. Ward