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Wind towers under the microscope as third moratorium proposed

BEEKMANTOWN As the new year begins, wind energy is a hot topic on the agenda for many local town councils. The Beekmantown Town Council held a public hearing Jan. 7 regarding whether or not to extend the towns moratorium on wind towers for an additional 90 days. According to Town Supervisor Dennis Relation, wind energy first came to the forefront more than two years ago when Wind Horse Power put in an application to erect 13 wind towers in the Rand Hill area. After nearly a year of review, the application was approved as an essential service under the towns zoning laws. However, residents and council members alike were concerned with the unknown direction wind development might take without regulation. In response, the council passed a one-year moratorium on future wind development and formed the Wind Advisory Committee to look into the matter and make recommendations. The report, which was issued in February 2007, made two alternate recommendations: either wind towers should not be allowed in Beekmantown at all; or they should be allowed with very strict regulation. Personally, I dont see a big rush [towards allowing wind towers] until we see how it works out in other communities, explained Mr. Relation. Beekmantown is a more populous community, closer to the city. Our location is more conducive to residential. However, others on the council have been more eager to allow in wind development. A second one-year moratorium, which expires Jan. 22, was put in place to give the town time to draft its own regulations. It can be very lucrative for towns, conceded Mr. Relation, who added other towns have been able to lower their tax rates from revenue generated by wind towers. There is currently a patchwork of towns in the county that do allow wind development, including Ellenburg, Altona and Mooers. Other towns, including Champlain, Peru and Chazy either have moratoriums or zoning regulations that deal with the issue. At this point, the Beekmantown is very close to completing the draft legislation. The legislation is expected to allow wind development in town-designated agricultural zones, while banning it in all other zones, including residential. According to the towns zoning map, the legislation will allow wind towers into several large chunks, including along a part of State Route 22 north of Spellman Road, in an area stretching from Ashley Road to State Route 9, and a portion of Point Au Roche. The already approved 13-wind tower Rand Hill project, however, will not be affected by the moratorium or any new regulations as Wind Horses application was already before the zoning board. The West Beekmantown Neighborhood Association filed an appeal against the project, but a judge ruled against the appeal. According to Mr. Relation, the extra 90-day moratorium is needed to flesh out the final details of the towns proposed law. Were very, very close to completion, he explained. The Wind Energy Moratorium extension, Local Law No. 1 for 2008, will be voted on at the town councils next monthly meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22. If approved, the council will have 90 days to finish drafting and pass the new law.

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