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Yates approves revised wind ordinance with farther setbacks for turbines, ban by lakeshore

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 February 2018 at 4:44 pm

YATES – The Yates Town Board has approved revisions to the town’s wind energy facilities law that bans wind turbines from within 3 miles of the Lake Ontario shoreline and also requires bigger property setbacks of at least a half mile.

The proposed revisions also insist turbines be quieter than the current regulations.

The Town Board passed the law on Thursday evening in a 4-1 vote. Wes Bradley voted no, while Town Supervisor Jim Simon and board members Harold Suhr, Jim Whipple and John Riggi approved it.

Taylor Quarles, project manager for the proposed Lighthouse Wind, said last month during an Orleans County Planning Board meeting that the Yates proposal represents “a wind energy ban.”

Apex Clean Energy wants to put as many as 70 turbines in Yates and Somerset that would be about 600 feet high as part of Lighthouse Wind.

Simon, the Yates town supervisor, said the bigger setbacks will protect “non-participating land owners” and help to preserve the rural nature and character of the town.

Simon said 3-mile buffer from the shoreline follows a recommendation from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which sees the 3-mile section along the shoreline as an important flyway for birds.

The changes in the Yates ordinance also include:

  • Reducing the allowable noise decibels to “residential receivers” from 45 during the day (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.) to 42, and from 40 at nighttime to 39 decibels. Simon said that follows recommendations from the Vermont Public Service Board for lower decibels. Simon said the turbine noise and “infrasound” can disturb sleep, causing negative health effects for people. The infrasound is a lower frequency of noise that can disrupt a person’s equilibrium, Simon said.
  • The setbacks from non-participating property lines was a minimum of 3 times the turbine height for land with houses or buildings, and 4.5 times the turbine height for vacant land. The change now increases the minimum setback to a half-mile (2,640 feet) or 6 times the turbine height, whichever is greater.
  • The setback from roads and public right-of-ways was a minimum of 1,800 feet or 3 times the height of a turbine. Yates has increased that to a half-mile or 6 times the turbine height.
  • The setback from the boundary of the Village of Lyndonville was 1,800 feet or 4.5 times a turbine height. Yates increased that setback to a minimum of 1 mile.
  • The setback from the boundaries from other towns was 1,800 feet or 3 times a turbine’s height. Yates now requires a half-mile setback or 6 times a turbine’s height, whichever is greater.
  • The setback from residences was 1,800 feet or 4.5 times a turbine height. Yates increased that to a half-mile or 6 times a turbine’s height.
  • In addition, Yates now has setbacks of 1 mile from schools, churches, and cemeteries. The town law didn’t include setbacks for those sites.

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