4/18/12

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.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why is it always assumed that the idea of prohibiting turbines disregards science and research. This is simply an argumentative tool used to make a ban seem irrational. Nothing could be further from reality.

Prohibiting turbines is a conclusion reached after assessing all the negative impacts that this zoning law addresses, while also considering that industrial wind power is unfeasible, ineffective, and extreme costly. In other words it is hardly worth jeopardizing the values of our community for such a small return .

Prohibitng turbines is based solely on science, common sense, and financial realities. The continued characterization of such a policy as imprudent is based simply on a fear that it will not pass the muster of Article X.

It is just as likely that any of these zoning criteria could and will be challenged by a State siting board or any developer who decides to apply. It is unwarranted to think just because some attorney gives the zoning law his thumbs up, that it is therefore ironclad.

Its a matter of how far do we go to protect not only our residents but also our environment.

Anonymous said...

4:14,
You make a mistake in not factoring in the fact that political correctness is very much a part of the legal and regulatory framework in which we are dealing.

Anonymous said...

"simply on a fear that it will not pass the muster of Article X."

A very valid concern indeed when that science could be applied within the actual zoning laws which have a history of being able to be defended in every state in the US.

Granted, sometimes developers are able to defend against them and states with Article X type siting laws might take them to court. But you might be surprised to find that their win record has been very slim. And, developers and the states will take the easiest path in the town with the least resistance.

Let me be the devil's advocate here and reverse your theory, "It is unwarranted to think just because some amateur legal theorist replaces a zoning law with a simplified and prejudicial ban, that it is therefore ironclad.

Yours would be a more risky, easier way out which is often attempted by municipalities that do not have the human resources and the committee diligence your town appears to have.

If your zoning law is indeed a de facto exclusion (Wiley using ban was the wrong choice of words.) then so be it. At least the plaintiffs cannot charge that your town is prejudiced unless you enter that risk by adding the actual intent to write a ban.

"Its a matter of how far do we go to protect not only our residents but also our environment."

Your are correct, again. But if you go to far so as to show extreme prejudice and become over burdensome and irrational with intangible and immeasurable reasons for the ban, you increase your risk.

Remember (My assumption based on following this blog.) there is very likely a force in your town that a ban would exclude entirely. They have a right to representation by community law as well.)
They will show up in court and testify to your wind ban prejudice.

Good luck to your town. It does not seem to be suited for wind development.

RWiley said...

Let me make this correction to my post.

I was one of two Cape citizens who attended yesterday's meeting. The other being K from Pandora's Box of Rocks. Yesterday she had to be a little late and I failed to change my notes.

K has attended many of the meetings as well.

But for the most part, other than two town bloggers and folks from Lyme, public interest and public knowledge of the committee's work has been very sparse.

Anonymous said...

The wind ban concept goes back many years before A10 renewal was conceived and town wind corruption reigned in the state. Much has changed since then. It has been said time and time again across the state in recent months that a ban would likely be consider overly burdensome. Remember, judges ultimately formulate their opinions based on public policy second to the actual laws.

Anonymous said...

Good review JLL. Sounds like Article 10 is affecting how this town is planning its future. If the shadow of Big Andy wasn't hovering over these committees, they'd have a far easier job. Ideally, second guessing Big Andy shouldn't be how we plan for the Cape's future. The State should stay in Albany and busy themselves with stealing public funds and leave us alone. Regardless, we have to play the cards we are dealt and we should all thank those people trying so hard to protect the Cape.

Anonymous said...

I for one am not able to attend midweek daytime meetings. Some of the other interested parties will be in court the minute the revised law hits the books.

Anonymous said...

The Cape Vincent Democrats are right in tune with Big Andy.

Why else would Big Andy rescue Darrell Aubertine and give him a no mind job after his industrial wind corrupt ass was kicked to the curb by North County voters who were sick of his bending of the codes of ethics?

Big Andy is all about taking away as much as he can and shoving government up the local butts.

The Cape Vincent Dems need to clean house. Take back our party.

Give honest Dems a chance to help lead Cape Vincent.

Tell Aubertine and Wiley to step aside.

Anonymous said...

8:55 which is too bad for you. Because there is no one there to document any prejudice. But it does seem from what RWiley is reporting of their meetings that there are a couple of anti-wind people who are doing the best they can to enter prejudice into the formula by lobbying for an outright ban.

I don't think there is anyone who disagrees with you when you say it will all go to court. Perhaps the few people who want the ban will help you pro winders with your case. It is starting to look like that if you can believe what Lamora and his buddies have been telling us.

Anonymous said...

You can thank those bastards from wind and the jackasses who brought them here for putting our town through all this.

Anonymous said...

Rick,
The public has not attended because of the time that they are held. Alot of interested people can't make it their due to work, so 6pm would have been a better time. I would say the same for the "work sessions" for the town board as well.

RWiley said...

1:14

Thank you for that input.

I am well aware of that. I was only making a factual statement about the attendance of the committee meetings.

That is one of the reasons I am attending and making these reports when I can.

Anonymous said...

This is what resultedin an areas I am familiar with in Michigan.

Utility-grade wind turbines cannot be completely excluded from an area. That means a Planning Commission cannot write zoning that forbids a turbine developer from even applying for a permit. But Planning Commissions all over Michigan and in many other states have written RESTRICTIVE ZONING that no wind developer can meet. Local PCs can restrict tower height, impose strict limits on sound, lights, interference with wildlife, etc. The developer can appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals, but it is unlikely the ZBA will be allowed to reduce all the restrictions without a court challenge, which would be upheld because the ZBA can't completely rewrite the zoning.

Here's what happened. A wind developer wanted to erect turbines in a residential area close to the shoreline. Residents fought back, saying the turbines would spoil the view and thus their property values. They developed highly restrictive zoning that the wind developer couldn't meet. The turbine developer sued. He lost. Not once, but twice. Once in the first (lower) court and again in the appeals court. This case proved that communities can restrict zoning to keep beautiful landscapes.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 5:58 for sharing that information. This is what we have been told and you have varified it. Hopefully we can save our beautiful area from destruction.

Anonymous said...

So now we have a new word of the month to dissuade anyone to consider prohibiting industrial wind turbines. Prejudice?? I don't get this one. How can it be considered prejudicial to conclude that turbines are detrimental to the very nature of a community?

you're really reaching here. You are a master at semantics.

Anonymous said...

At least the committee and town board is actively looking out for the people who have no contracts and are voice is being heard, the former board only looked out for themselves.

Kudos to these people for all the hard work and extra time you are putting in, and for taking the issue seriously. I now sleep better at night and am not constantly worried about our town being destroyed. My vote counted for something this time!