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Parishville wind law receives conditional county approval

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WINTHROP - The latest version of Parishville’s proposed wind energy facilities law received conditional approval from the St. Lawrence County Planning Board Thursday night.

The town has revised its proposal several times. The law would create a “wind overlay district,” a special designated area where wind turbines could go. The Parishville town board will hold a public hearing on the law at 7 p.m. Monday.

The planning board approved the law unanimously and with little debate Thursday night, provided the town follow recommendations put forth. The planning board approval is part of a necessary advisory process for the law, but their recommendations can be overridden by the Parishville town board.

Planner Matilda Larson said the town needs to check with its attorney on the legalities of one area of the law. The law in its current form states the Parishville Zoning Board of Appeals would be forbidden from allowing any wind energy facilities outside the overlay district. Ms. Larson said the town has not yet defined where that district will be.

The purpose of a zoning board is to grant variances, Ms. Larson said. She didn’t think a zoning board could be legally forbid from considering variances on wind turbines.

“We’re not sure they can actually do that,” she said.

The town’s proposed law also states turbines no longer operating must be removed within 90 days if their permit is revoked. The planning board recommends Parishville provide the owners with six months to do that instead.

“We thought 90 days wasn’t enough time, especially if it occurs in the fall,” Ms. Larson said.

Another change recommended by the planning board deals with setbacks. Parishville’s law states any wind turbine must be placed at least 500 feet away from the nearest neighboring property line or one and a half times the height of the wind turbine, whichever is greater.

The proposed law stated the turbines must be at least that far away only from a “non-participating” adjoining property or a neighbor who doesn’t have any wind turbines. The planning board recommended the town strike the “non-participating” language because neighbors can change and distances should be kept in case a future resident doesn’t want wind turbines near their property.

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