The Town Crier

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Town of Cape Vincent Zoning Ordinance Committee will consult with Attorney Curtin on their "de facto zoning ban on industrial wind".

Yesterday's meeting of the Town of Cape Vincent Zoning Ordinance Committee was attended by three people. Both Cape Vincent bloggers and one interested citizen from the Town of Lyme.

Chairman Robert Brown led the committee in a discussion  regarding what the committee members would like to find out during a scheduled trip to consult with their Attorney, Paul Curtin, in Syracuse, NY.

The Draft Zoning law, in its present form, is very restrictive in regards to industrial wind.  Those restrictions are based on the science of noise, throw, and health and safety of all Cape Vincent residents. The draft, thus far,  does not appear to provide any room in the Town of Cape Vincent for viable industrial wind. The concern now was whether such a restrictive ordinance would pass the test of the courts and be overridden by any future Article X siting boards that would attempt to force industrial wind upon our community.

Clif Schneider read the committee a document that expressed the present direction of his Village-Town Joint Comprehensive Plan Committee. The statement said that the 2003 Cape Vincent Town-Village Joint Comprehensive Plan was relevant during the previous two attempts by developers to site large industrial wind projects. The previous administration choose to ignore the 2003 Comp Plan and the applications for the two projects were never completed. Among other things, Schneider's statement said the Comp Plan committee had concerns about protecting the value of homes in Cape Vincent as well as the migratory flyway. In conclusion, neither the 2003 Comp Plan demonstrated that industrial wind was a good fit for Cape Vincent nor does the Schneider committee feel that will change in their revisions and update. Schneider mentioned one of his committee member's concerns about how well Rosiere area residents will be protected by the new Comp Plan and Zoning laws.
Committee member Butch Cullen expressed that their draft, in its present form, set a series of zoning restrictions that is a de facto ban on industrial wind in the town. He commented that you could eliminate all those conditions made thus far that were based on science and simply ban wind turbines, but went on to say that it could be very risky to use that approach. He also said that a zoning statement based on protecting one's view shed would not, in his opinion, stand up as well as all the scientific justifications and protections of the health and safety of residents against wind turbines. (Mr. Cullen was a member of the long standing Town of Cape Vincent Wind Turbine Economic Impact Committee.) Either way, at some point, Cullen opined,  the town's new zoning may have to face the test of an Article X siting board. It is best for the committee to make the final decisions under the advisement of Attorney Curtin.

The committee had a lengthy discussion about the impacts of turbines on the view shed of Cape Vincent Citizens and how views of turbines could be addressed by zoning. Committee member Paul Docteur told of his personal experiences living with the Wolfe Island turbine impacts along the Cape shoreline. 

In regards to protecting property values, Chairman Brown suggested that Schneider's committee revisit the work of the Town of Cape Vincent's Industrial Wind Turbine Impact Committee to clear up what he thought was misunderstandings about how wind turbine's affect property values. Schneider reminded Brown of Michael McCann's review of the impact committee's work and that McCann found that property values of industrial wind neighboring homes could be reduced by as much as forty percent. The Michael McCann review was commissioned through the donated financial support of concerned citizens who were following the Turbine Impact committee's work.

Committee member Richard MacSherry, who is also involved with the town's new assessment re-val committee,  added that the town will be facing many problems of those having concerns about the speculation of what industrial wind will do to home values and the total value of the town. How much will Wolfe Island affect the re-vale of Cape Vincent homes?

Although neighboring communities in Jefferson County have not encountered the same property sales dilemma faced by Cape Vincent, committee member Ed Bender said that he felt that the general economic conditions had also affected Cape Vincent's stagnant market. It was pointed out that nearly one hundred properties are for sale in Cape Vincent and only a few have sold in recent years. 

All of the above discussion was in regards to the committee's preparation of what they will discuss with Attorney Paul Curtin at this week's scheduled meeting.

Committee member Ed Hludzenski summarized the discussions by saying, what the committee needs from Curtin is his present opinion on what is the best way to defend our town against the siting of wind turbines which Hludzenski felt the majority of the town does not want.

Attorney Paul Curtin attended an early working session of the committee and the committee's early direction was set under Curtin's advisement.

The committee went on to discuss the zoning of tall structures. Chairman Brown indicated that he would like to complete that portion of the draft zoning law by the end of next week.
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