Windmills stir up a storm in Cape Vincent NY | News from The Post-Standard

Compelling article describing the conflicts that wind projects can potentially provoke in local communities.

“I really think that most of the people are trying to do just what they think is right. There’s a wide range of what people think is right,” said Gebo, the town attorney. “Wind has gotten to be emotional. It’s hard to have a logical discussion about it. It’s been a difficult struggle in Cape Vincent, for sure.”

Windmills stir up a storm in Cape Vincent | News from The Post-Standard –. (2/14)

Appeals court upholds wind farm as public utility determination

In a decision of considerable importance for wind developers in New York state, an appellate court upheld a determination by a local Zoning Board of Appeals that wind turbines are utilities under a town’s local zoning provisions. That brings to two the number of New York’s four judicial departments in which intermediate appeals courts have found compelling a local determination that wind farms may be considered public utilities.  Generally speaking, public utilities enjoy relaxed requirements under local zoning.

St. Lawrence Windpower, LLC applied to the Town of Cape Vincent Planning Board for site plan approval for its proposed construction of a series of wind-powered generators (project) on property designated as an “Agricultural Residential District.”  During the zoning process, the ZBA had determined that  wind turbines qualified as a utility and that the project therefore was a permitted site plan use in that district.

Local residents challenged the determination in an Article 78 proceeding. The trial court dismissed the challenge and the residents appealed.

The appeals court indicated that pursuant to section 315 of the Town of Cape Vincent Zoning Law, utilities are defined as “telephone dial equipment centers, electrical or gas substations, water treatment or storage facilities, pumping stations and similar facilities” that have been constructed or maintained by municipal agencies or public utilities.  The court concluded

that the classification by the ZBA of the series of wind-powered generators as a utility within the meaning of section 315 of its Zoning Law is neither irrational nor unreasonable, and that the determination is supported by substantial evidence.

The court approvingly cited a July 2008 appellate decision from New York’s Third Judicial Department, reported in this blog here.  As in that case, involving Beekmantown wind development, the appellate court cited to the seminal 1993 Court of Appeals case, Matter of Cellular Tel. Co. v Rosenberg, 82 NY2d 364 (1993).

The case is In Re WIND POWER ETHICS GROUP (WPEG) v ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS OF TOWN OF CAPE VINCENT (N.Y. 4th APP. DIV., March 20, 2009) (2009 NY Slip Op 2016, 34 CA 07-01995)

New York wind energy updates

Recent press and web articles include:

Town of Howard 25-turbine wind project advances. Hornell Evening Tribune, 1/28

Town of Hunter (Greene County) may extend wind moratorium. Daily Mail, 1/23

Town of Orleans wind committee develops. Watertown Daily Times, 1/26

New payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement advances Town of Prattsburgh wind project. The Corning Leader, 1/23 and  The Steuben Courier, 1/25

Cape Vincent wind committee discusses sebacks. Watertown Daily Times, 1/23

Town of Clayton wind committee to hold open future meetings. Watertown Daily Times, 1/23

Article on “Green Jobs“, including those relating to wind energy and in Clinton County,  in the The Nation, 1/28

Wind power in New York – updates

From recent press reports:

Wind developers BP Wind Energy and AES Acciona urge adoption of wind zoning law in Town of Cape Vincent (Jefferson County). Watertown Daily Times, 12/21

Town of Cherry Valley (Otsego County) official reconsidering desirability of wind development. Freeman’s Journal, 12/14 and Cooperstown Crier, 12/18

Town of Sodus (Wayne County) school district to install wind turbine, with eye toward cutting electricity bills. RNews, 12/18 Video here. July 2007 wind study here.

Scoping document finalized for Babcock & Brown Westfield-Ripley (Chautauqua County) wind farm project. Observer, 12/21. Scoping document is here.

New York wind project and siting developments

From recent press reports and the blogosphere:

Bonus wind energy quote of the day:

I look at it as my midlife thing. Some people get a Corvette, or a new woman. I got a windmill.

-Steve Rigoni of the Town of Pavilion (Genesee County) quoted in Buffalo News, 12/2, article on small-scale residential wind generation. Related story at WHEC-TV, 12/2

Group of landowners interested in publicly owned wind farms to host informational meeting on municipal wind projects December 13 in Town of Cape Vincent (Jefferson County). Watertown Daily Times, 12/2

Town of Pompey (Onondaga County) enacts wind development moratorium. Syracuse Post-Standard, 12/4. Text of Local Law No. 5 of 2008 imposing the six-month wind power generating facilities moratorium is here. It is a broad moratorium and covers small-scale turbines.

Interesting thought piece from Albany Law’s Patty Salkin on the New York State Attorney General’s efforts to regulate wind project siting. Is this a backdoor attempt by the AG to regulate municipal zoning officers? International Municipal Lawyers Association – Local Government Blog, 12/3

New York wind updates

More zoning challenges across the state described in local papers.

Allegany and Olean (Cattaraugus County) wind project review

Town Board in preliminary stages of reviewing Everpower wind project. Olean Times Herald 10/30. Allegany County Industrial development Agency discusses potential role, PILOT agreement with residents in Centerville. Olean Times Herald 10/31.

Cape Vincent (Jefferson County) wind zoning

Committee examining wind farm amendments to zoning seeks more data, focuses on sound, setbacks. Watertown Daily Times, 11/1

Warren (Herkimer County) wind environmental review

Warren Town Board sets meeting date of November 10 to review supplemental environmental impact statement for the Jordanville project. Richfield Springs Mercury 10/30. See also Freeman’s Journal 10/26.

Attorney General’s wind code of conduct

In an editorial, the Watertown Daily Times (11/1) welcomed Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s voluntary code of conduct and encouraged wind developers doing business in Jefferson County to sign on.

Wind developments in New York

Recent news includes articles on the challenges of transporting very large wind turbine parts on local roads, creating special zoning districts for wind facilities, and enacting local moratoria to stop development while towns examine how to zone wind facilities.

“Shipment of wind turbine blades causes traffic tieups in Buffalo”, Buffalo News (10/17)

Two windmill blades head north on Main Street at Delavan Avenue toward the Kensington Expressway in an example of misrouting. If you’ve been downtown in recent days, you may have noticed some very long flatbeds carrying some big cargo tying up traffic… The turbine parts are being shipped from a Quebec manufacturing plant to the High Sheldon Wind Farm in Wyoming County, approximately 30 miles southeast of Buffalo…

“Cape [Vincent, Jefferson County] rethinks turbine areas”, Watertown Daily Times (10/16)

The members of the committee formed to produce a zoning amendment to deal with wind farms changed their minds about boundaries for the area in which turbines would be allowed. About three weeks ago, the committee tentatively agreed to set Route 6 as the western boundary for a wind overlay district. But Wednesday afternoon, the committee decided that the entire agricultural-residential district should allow turbines…

“Tioga [County] board approves windmill moratorium”, The Daily Review (10/17)

The Tioga County Planning Board gave a positive recommendation Wednesday on a proposal from the town of Barton to place a 180 day moratorium on the installation of wind energy facilities within the town. The Town of Barton currently has deficient ordinances in place to regulate new wind energy facilities, the board said. Due to recent interest in developing wind energy plants in Barton, time is needed to develop new ordinances to regulate them, according to the board…