Board enacts controls on wind farms

ALLEGANY, NEW YORK - The Town Board has unanimously embraced a zoning amendment setting standards for the development of wind farms.

Allegany is the second town in Cattaraugus County to open the door to wind-energy facilities. The Town Board approved the measure. The Town of Farmersville, which has no zoning, earlier this year adopted a law establishing a permitting process for wind farms. To date, the interested developer, Noble Environmental, has not submitted a permit application.

The Allegany amendment reserves the townÂ’s right to opt out of a 15-year property-tax exemption under state real property law, and also reserves a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes option, with funding distribution to be controlled by the town.

The Cattaraugus County Legislature, in anticipation of future development of wind-generated power plants, will vote in September on its own tax-revenue option to generate income from alternative energy facilities. If that law passes, the county will assess and tax wind-farm facilities as property.

“We’re a pro-business and pro-development type of board, but we’re not so gung-ho about giving out tax exemptions like they did in the ’90s,” said Allegany Supervisor Patrick H. Eaton. “We know how the system works. Property owners can pay their taxes, and the guy coming in off the street with a silk suit can pay their fair share of taxes, too.”

Allegany enacted a moratorium on wind-energy projects while the Planning Board drew up a proposed zoning amendment that would allow for special-use permit approval. Everpower Renewables, according to officials, is considering placing a wind farm in a sparsely populated area of the town known as Chipmonk, where a single property owner controls about 25,000 acres of timber.

On Wednesday, Eaton said he hopes property owners considering easements for wind-energy facilities will talk to several firms before signing contracts, adding that property owners should have the right to make some money on their land without excessive government controls.

The amendment generated both support and opposition from residents attending meetings and hearings on the issue over the past year.

Eaton said he had expected a packed house for the vote but was surprised at the low turnout and lack of emotion.

Absent from the meeting was Don Black, leader of the Allegany Wind Farm Committee, along with most of his 43-member group of property owners opposed to the project. Black said that most Allegany Wind Farm Committee members believed the zoning amendment would have passed even if 50 or 60 people turned out.

“We’re not opposed to windmills because I’m sure there’s a place for them, but we felt that Allegany isn’t the place for them. Some development may not be the best development,” he said.

The new zoning provisions require wind farm developers to present an engineering report that will determine adequacy of setbacks, risks of ice throw and tower collapse, and also call for a visual and noise analysis.


in Year