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Turbine project passes the turning point with town zoners


ANCRAM–The legendary winds that blow atop Winchell Mountain will soon be spinning the blades of two wind turbines to generate electrical power for Michael Gershon’s house and garage.

The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) unanimously okayed two special use permits for the construction of two 111-foot high wind turbines on Mr. Gershon’s three-acre property at 143 Carson Road, June 29.

Each wind turbine tower is 100-feet tall and each has blades 11-feet long. They will be the first wind turbines in Ancram.

The ZBA took up the wind turbine matter at one public hearing that spanned two meetings May 11 and June 15.

Among the concerns expressed by neighbors were that:

*The Gershon property was too narrow and small to support two turbines in a residential area

*The ZBA was establishing a density precedent by allowing two turbines on one parcel

*The turbines are situated too close to property lines and will fall down on neighboring properties

*The continuous sound of the spinning blades will be an irritant along with a light-reflecting phenomenon called flicker

*The turbines will look ugly, impede the scenic view and cause property values to plummet

*The turbines will not be properly maintained.

In its eight-page resolution approving the Gershon application, the ZBA found that:

*The siting of both towers conformed to zoning ordinance setback and height requirements

*New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) personnel will conduct regular inspections of the towers, the installation of which will be funded in part by a NYSERDA grant

*The towers presented no significant environmental impacts

*Because the wind towers will be surrounded by trees and vegetation on three sides no scenic views will be compromised and early morning shadows cast to the west by flicker, if any, would be obstructed.

The ZBA approved the Gershon application with several conditions, including that:

*If the towers are not converting wind to electricity for 12 months in a row, they will be deemed abandoned and will be taken down at the owner’s expense

*Inspection and service reports must be forwarded to the town building inspector, who will have “reasonable access” to the property to make sure all conditions are complied with

*No banners or signs can be posted on the towers

*Mr. Gershon has to enter into an agreement with the town so that the town will be held harmless for all damages and expenses it incurs resulting from a collapse or fall down of the towers on Carson Road, a town road, or the town’s right of way

The building inspector has the authority to revoke the permits for the towers should Mr. Gershon be in violation of any ZBA-imposed conditions.

ZBA Chair Leah Wilcox said in a phone interview Tuesday that the board “addressed every single issue” raised by neighbors. “The board was deliberative, not arbitrary, we looked at and considered the evidence,” she said.

In conducting her research, Mrs. Wilcox said she spoke at length to Mike Bergey, the owner of Bergey Windpower, the turbine dealer. She learned that in the 30 years the company has been in business, it has installed 7,000 guyed and lattice towers and never had a liability claim against it.

To contact Diane Valden email

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