Wind Turbine Moratorium Public Hearing Set for Wednesday

Town budget vote for 2014 also on agenda

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

Philipstown’s Town Board plans a civic double-header for Wednesday (Nov. 20): a public hearing on a proposed, 6-month moratorium on wind-turbine applications and a vote on adopting a 2014 town budget. The sessions are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall, 238 Main St., Cold Spring.

The type of small-wind turbine sought by a Garrison resident; photo courtesy of Hudson Valley Wind Energy

The type of small-wind turbine sought by a Garrison resident; photo courtesy of Hudson Valley Wind Energy

The hearing will allow citizens with thoughts on a moratorium to air their views before the Town Board takes any further action. The proposed moratorium grew out of a year-long discussion at the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals over a Garrison resident’s request to install a 152-foot on-site or backyard wind turbine to provide household energy.

The ZBA approved that application on Oct. 1. But in light of the months of often-contentious debate, the ZBA asked the Town Board to review the town’s 2-year-old zoning law to clarify provisions on alternative energy systems. Because it exceeded the height restrictions for minor (or routine) structure by 112 feet, the Garrison turbine’s tallness forced the homeowner to pursue a special-use permit. However, opponents objected to it on the basis of expected noise-generation as well as size and aesthetics.

The Town Board got sucked into the controversy over the summer and wants the moratorium on submission and processing of further applications until it can make any necessary changes to town law.

The moratorium would not apply to on-site wind turbines that are not higher than 40 feet. Any applications under review by the ZBA or town Planning Board before the moratorium takes effect also would be exempt.

According to a text of the proposed moratorium, released prior to an Oct. 30 Town Board workshop, the 6-month-long hiatus will allow the Town Board time “to review, clarify, amend and update the town’s special-permit and accessory-use regulations for major wind energy conversion systems.”  The draft further states that the moratorium would help meet the town’s obligation “to protect and preserve the public health, welfare, and safety of the citizens of the town, as well as to protect the value, use and enjoyment of property” in Philipstown.

Taking more applications “without first addressing the provisions in the town code … may have a permanent, significant, and substantial negative impact on the nature and quality of life in the town and on the health, safety, general welfare, and comfort of its residents,” the draft adds. Thus, it continues, a moratorium “will achieve the balancing of interests between the public need to safeguard the resources and character of the town; the health, safety and general welfare of its residents; and the rights of individual property owners, persons, or businesses engaging in various development activities” during the lull.

The Town Board has been working on the 2014 budget in workshops for several weeks. The preliminary rough draft released at the end of September showed a budget of more than $9 million.

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