County planning board, town councilmen suggest that Hopkinton wind tower setbacks and overlay zone are 'too restrictive'
By MATT LINDSEY
HOPKINTON – The St. Lawrence County Planning Board and two town councilmen have suggested that wind turbine setbacks and the wind overlay zone may be too restrictive.
The planning board recommended that the Town of Hopkinton board change setbacks, allowing them to be closer to property lines.Avangrid, a subsidiary of Iberdrola, is heading the North Ridge Wind Farm, which calls for about 40 wind towers to be constructed in Hopkinton and Parishville.
As it stands now, setbacks would be five times the height of a tower (around 500 feet high), which would be 2,500 from the property line of a non-participating landowners and the same distance from a participating landowners foundation line.
Town Supervisor Sue Wood said the planning board made those recommendations based on comparisons to other areas with wind farms.
Wood said the planning board questioned why the Hopkinton Wind Advisory Board approved a wind overlay zone that chose not expand the land where wind towers can be placed, which would keep the proposed turbines away from the Adirondack Park.
None of the recommendations were required, and Wood did not see any issues or major hurdles in getting a law passed eventually.
Wood said the county planning board did not make any sound decibel limit recommendations.
“They agreed on the conditions,” she said, noting that there were “minor adjustments” to wording and language of the wind law.
Town councilmen Steve Parker and Greg Crump would like to see the sound decibel limit for the noise the wind towers can produce increase from 40 to 45 decibels.
Crump, who was previously abstaining from voting due to a conflict of interest, is now able to vote following a change in the town’s ethics law last month, Wood said.
The change allows for members to vote on wind measures directly affecting cousins, aunts and uncles while still excluding votes affecting those with closer family relationships such as children, siblings and parents.
Parker made the wind tower sound recommendation based on 45 decibels being the international standard, Wood said.
Parker and Crump also thought setbacks of 2,500 feet were too restrictive. The men offered no other explanation other than the current distance is “too restrictive” as their reason, Wood said.
The two councilmen would also like to see the overlay zone expanded, Wood said.
Fellow councilwoman Sue Lyon was in favor of keeping setbacks at 2,500 feet, according to Wood. But Wood was not sure how Lyon felt about decibels or the overlay zone issues.
Wood did not express her stance on the issue.
The board will continue discussion about the overlay zone, setbacks and sound restrictions at a work session June 28 at 7 p.m. in the town office. The public is welcome to attend.
A public hearing is scheduled for July 13 at the town hall at 7 p.m.
The town board next meets July 17.