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Lyme council passes law restricting wind farms

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THREE MILE BAY — After a heated public debate over setbacks and noise limits, Lyme’s Town Council adopted a set of zoning rules Saturday that are so strict industrial wind farms will not be feasible in the town.

The council voted 4-1 with Deputy Supervisor Donald R. Bourquin casting the sole “no” vote because he thought the turbine noise caps should be consistent with the neighboring town of Cape Vincent’s less restrictive standards to make it more “defendable” when considered by a state siting board under New York’s Article X process.

Article X of the 2011 Power NY Act regulates the siting of electrical energy-generation facilities of more than 25 megawatts.

Nearly 50 town residents attended a public hearing held prior to Saturday’s special meeting at the Three Mile Bay Fire Hall and, as usual, opinions were split.

While many residents praised the town board for looking out for the safety, health and welfare of Lyme residents by putting strict restrictions on wind development, others called the new rules “ridiculous” and questioned the validity of a townwide wind survey that found the majority opposed wind turbines.

Dawn M. Monk, Three Mile Bay, said the town’s 258-acre wind overlay district — the only place where turbines may be placed — is merely 0.72 percent of Lyme’s total acreage and the council members who vote in favor of the wind law are, in essence, “robbing landowners of their property rights.”

Lyme’s overlay district is two narrow strips of land — on the town’s northeastern side — where wind turbines are allowed after taking into account several setbacks.

Julia E. Gosier, an outspoken proponent of wind development, said the town is “zoning out” wind farms based on an “improper” survey.

“You recently sent a letter to the state siting board saying you objected to them taking away our home rule. The state didn’t take it away, you did, when you decided to write your law to zone wind out of Lyme based on a survey that was improper and tainted by dishonesty,” she said. “When you counted the votes of hundreds of nonresident land owners, you gave them the right to vote in two different places. That’s illegal.”

There were discussions among town board members and the public on altering the lake and river setbacks as well as noise caps but the council ultimately decided to adopt the proposed law without changes.

Donald J. Metzger, a year-round Lyme resident who has been following the issue for years, said the new rules reflect the Town Council’s and the Planning Board’s efforts to protect residents from foreseeable harm.

“I want to thank the Planning Board for taking the effort to write up this proposed law,” he said. “I think they did a fine job.”

Lyme’s turbine setbacks are:

n Half-mile from roads, non-participating property lines, neighboring town boundaries, state parks, wildlife management areas, nature preserves and wetlands.

n One mile from the Chaumont boundary, hamlet of Three Mile Bay Lighting District boundary, Route 12E, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, schools, churches, public access sites, ball fields and cemeteries.

n Two miles from Lake Ontario, Chaumont Bay and the Chaumont River.

n 1,600 feet from above-ground utilities other than commercial turbines.

A-weighted, audible spectrum noise limits are:

n Daytime (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.), 30 decibels.

n Nighttime (7 p.m. to 7 a.m.), 35 decibels.

The C-weighted, or low-frequency, noise limit will be 18 decibels above the A-weighted limit.

Defending the strict rules, which virtually ban wind farms in Lyme, the town Planning Board in its draft proposal argued that commercial turbines “eliminate the opportunity to enjoy the quiet surroundings that are characteristic of the region” and can “adversely affect” property values.

“Those same people who yell ‘viewshed’ have taken the view of the waterfront away from anyone not fortunate enough to actually own waterfront,” Mrs. Gosier said. “Take a drive around Three Mile Point, see if you can enjoy waterfront viewshed.”

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