By Chris Hoffman
(Town of Madison, NY – June 2012) On Monday, June 11, over 150 people filled the auditorium at Madison Central School for a public hearing that provided people an opportunity to speak their minds on the proposed moratorium on Rolling Upland Hills Wind Farm in the Town of Madison.
The majority of speakers were in favor of the moratorium, and many spoke eloquently and passionately about the need for local land use regulations that would adequately protect local residents from energy companies looking to site wind farms in the Town. Thirty people spoke in favor of the moratorium, and three spoke against the moratorium, with a fourth submitting written comments against.
Speakers addressed the critical need for effective land use planning by the Town and its residents, noting that the actions of one person can affect neighbors and the community as a whole.
Ron Meyers addressed the need for sufficient time to learn as much as possible about the project and its long term effects. Meyers noted that due diligence in the early stages of such a project provides an opportunity for currently unknown ramifications to become known with the proper homework. He said there are presently too many “unknowables” about what a project of this size will do to the community and asked, “Why should we be guinea pigs?”
The proposed project would site 39 wind turbine towers within 1,000 feet of numerous homes within a residential area. Many homes would have several towers surrounding them, according to current site maps.
Many speakers expressed that the Town and residents have nothing to lose by enacting a moratorium in order to provide time to thoroughly study the project and create local laws that benefit the entire community. People repeatedly noted that time was necessary to “do this right” and many quoted the May 23 letter from Jeffrey Nemeth, Project Manager for developer EDP Renewables:
“The moratorium does give the community an opportunity to take a step back and evaluate their current zoning ordinance (wind law). … I encourage each of you to ask the Town Board and the Planning Board to take this year and compare the current ordinance to ordinances in other communities that have built wind arms. … Decisions should not be made in haste, especially decisions that have long term impacts to the community.”
The Town Council next meets on June 14, but will not vote on the moratorium at that meeting. Instead, the Town Council has scheduled a workshop to review all the comments received about the moratorium law, as well as a Special Meeting when the Board will vote on the moratorium law.
The workshop will be held Thursday, June 21, at 1 pm in the afternoon. It is open to the public to listen, but not participate.
The Special Meeting to vote on whether to enact the moratorium will take place a week later, on Thursday, June 28, at 7:30 pm at the Town Offices at 7358 Route 20, Madison.