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Senate Bill S4608 MORATORIUM ON WIND FARM CONSTRUCTION

The New York State Coalition of Concerned Citizens have come together to get the word out to all NYS municipality officials and citizens regarding the upcoming legislation, known as Article X, and the importance of maintaining Home Rule in our state. We have sent a letter to all NYS Supervisors, encouraging them and their respective boards and citizens, to contact and inform Governor Spitzer, Senate Majority Leader Bruno, Senate Energy Chairman Wright, and all their representatives that we simply refuse to have our right of Home Rule stripped away through the adoption of Article X.

New York State has always prided itself on being a Home Rule State. The fact is that citizens can only create the kinds of communities they want to live in 20, 40, & 60 years down the road, if they remain authorized and empowered to make decisions for themselves as to what is best for their communities. We simply can not allow what would be a gross loss of our freedoms, nor the massive land grab of our countryside that is the driving force behind the whole issue. Please write your representatives today and tell them to say NO to Article X and the loss of Home Rule.

February 22, 2008

Dear Town Supervisors, Town Board Members, & Interested Members of the Public,

As you know, Governor Eliot Spitzer, has called for the New York State Legislature to revise and re-establish Article X (10) of the NYS Public Service Law, which would establish a new siting and permitting process for energy facilities in our state. It appears that bills to be introduced in the 2008 legislative session will over-ride current “Home Rule” authority, wherein the State of New York will acquire the authority to supersede municipal planning, zoning, and decision-making regarding the siting of these energy facilities. Therefore, it is imperative that you immediately contact your NYS representatives, and let them know that you vehemently oppose the loss of Home Rule.

Once the New York State budget is finalized, we expect Article X to emerge as a prominent political issue in Albany. To counter the looming threat that our municipality’s right to make decisions for themselves will be stripped away with the passage of Article X, we are strongly encouraging all NYS municipalities to take the following actions:

1.) Protest the threatened loss of Home Rule by contacting your State Senator and Assemblyperson, and demand that they DO NOT SUPPORT Article X legislation which would over-ride Home Rule.
(www.nysl.nysed.gov/ils/legislature/legis.html )

2.) Contact the Association of Towns to notify them of your concerns so that they can represent you in Albany in regards to this issue.
(www.nytowns.org )

3.) Adopt and/or strengthen your local zoning ordinances for utilities, emphasizing local planning jurisdiction.

4.) Most importantly, in order to protect our right to self-governance under Home Rule, adopt legislation that refuses to recognize Constitutional “Rights of Personhood” — which were instituted by our founding fathers and intended solely for individuals who are citizens of these United States, to any & all corporations thinking they can do business in our communities by usurping our right to decide for ourselves. (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund:
www.celdf.org - see ordinances)

The question is: Who gets to decide? New York State has always prided itself on the fact that it is a Home Rule State. Citizens can only create the the kinds of communities they want to live in 20, 40, & 60 years down the road, if they are authorized and empowered to make decisions for themselves regarding what’s best for their communities. To allow NYS representatives, who were elected to protect and serve us, to suddenly strip away Home Rule, thus enabling this immense land grab, is a blatant continuation of a downward spiral of rights removal.

Please — do not delay! Contact Governor Spitzer, Senate Majority Leader Bruno, Senate Energy Chairman Wright, and all your elected representatives, and let them know we simply refuse to have our right of Home Rule stripped away!

Sincerely,

New York State Coalition of Concerned Citizens


Examples of effective legislation already adopted in New York & other U.S. townships, that were specifically designed to safeguard their communities’ rural heritage, safety, quality of life, and right to maintain local control can be viewed at:
www.celdf.org
(see ordinances).

Senator George H. Winner, Jr.
Chairman, Legislative Commission on Rural Resources

Dear Senator Winner, Jr.:

This letter is an answer to the questionnaire regarding the impact of proposed Article X regulations on local governments. I am a member of the Planning Board in the Town of Lyme and I also, prior to joining the Planning Board, organized a Citizen's Advisory Committee for the purpose of gathering information about wind turbines and their effects. Lyme's Planning Board recently developed a set of proposed modifications to our local land use regulations to govern the siting of wind turbines in the town of Lyme. We have reviewed our proposed law with several public hearings and subsequently with the Jefferson County Planning Board. We are currently proceeding to modify the proposed law to incorporate the County's comments, prior to its adoption.

I am concerned that in your letter of January 31, requesting comments of local government officials, you state that your commission has been a strong proponent of responsible wind energy development. This statement concerns me because my research as to the efficacy of wind energy supplied by large industrial wind turbines has not convinced me that these devices contribute significantly to either our energy independence or to a reduction in greenhouse gases.

We find ourselves in the position of being aggressively pursued by wind developers who are, of course strong advocates of these large wind turbines. In my extensive research of the effects of these large wind turbine installations, it seems to me that the principal beneficiaries are the large wind developers and wealthy investors who reap significant tax relief from their ownership of these devices. The State should offer us protection when dealing with these financially and, it appears, politically powerful wind turbine developers. I would hope, that as citizens of New York, we could count on the State to assist us in resisting these large corporations who do not care or appreciate the damage these large wind installations would do to the scenic beauty of the Thousand Islands area and the consequent damage to our largely tourist/vacationer based economy.

In general we have not found the State to be helpful in our situation. The literature provided on NYSERDA's website for municipalities appears to have been taken nearly verbatim from the press releases of the AWEA or the individual wind developers.

NYSERDA, in its paper titled, "Other Potential Environmental Impacts," (October 2005, www.powernaturally.org) characterizes these large industrial turbines as devices producing sound levels comparable to a "kitchen refrigerator," at a setback of 750 to 1,000 feet. This is pure nonsense as there are documented studies of people residing several miles from these devices experiencing annoying sound levels. If the State is going to put out materials for guidance of local officials through NYSERDA or other agencies, it should be researched, compiled, and vetted by independent experts from our universities and not by the wind developers and their paid consultants. Senator George H. Winner, Jr.

The wind developers in this and surrounding communities have utilized unethical approaches that are virtually tearing communities apart. I have attached a letter I recently sent to the editor of the Watertown Daily Times protesting this tactic of approaching the poor farmers in the area years before making their intentions known to the community.

I am particularly concerned about the penultimate paragraph of your summary of the law wherein it is stated that, "The siting board would be required to determine if the proposed facility is in compliance with local laws and regulations, unless it finds those local requirements are unreasonably restrictive..." Our planning Board has devoted considerable effort to researching and defining noise restrictions in our local law. This is particularly important in Lyme as a large portion of our residents own property on or near Lake Ontario, which they value for its peaceful quiet atmosphere and beautiful vistas. The establishment of wind turbine facilities here in Lyme and in the neighboring towns of Cape Vincent, Clayton, and Hounsfield would adversely affect the desirability of the area to vacationers and tourists. I would not want to see our carefully crafted and reasonable local regulations overridden by a State Board and it appears the proposed modifications to Article X would make that a possibility.

In summary, I would like to see the State provide some assistance to the local governments of our towns to resist these aggressive and powerful developers who are determined to reap the benefits currently available for wind turbine owners, regardless of disastrous consequences to our communities, our economy and our way of life. The developers should not be getting assistance from the State as we are already engaged in a David and Goliath struggle. I would be pleased to further discuss this situation with you and your Senate Committee.

Very truly yours,
Albert H. Bowers III

cc: Darrel Aubertine
William Barclay
Governor Eliot Spitzer

Impact of Article X siting on NYS Local Governments in Rural Counties - Senator George H. Winner, Jr

January 31, 2008

Dear Local Government Official:

As you may know, two bills have been introduced in the state Legislature that would re-authorize Article X of the Public Service Law which is designed to streamline the siting review and approval process for major electric generating facilities. (A brief summary of the proposed provisions is shown on Page 2). Wind farm projects that meet certain thresholds established for power plants are included in these proposals, with the process governed by a statewide siting board.

Currently, municipalities in New York govern the siting process for wind farms proposed within their jurisdictions utilizing land use regulations they have enacted and the SEQRA review process, with several projects either already completed or under review. The proposed Article X legislation would impact such local control over the siting of wind farms.

The NYS Legislative Commission on Rural Resources has been a strong proponent of responsible wind energy development in rural New York. It is our intent to inform the Legislature of the impact on rural communities of the proposed Article X legislation. Please take a few moments to provide your guidance to us by completing the questionnaire on Page 3 and return by Fax (518.426.6960) or E-mail: ruralres@senate.state.ny.us by February 20. It is anticipated action will be taken on the Article X legislation this session so time is of the essence in submitting your input. Call 518.455.2544 if you have any questions or need assistance in completing the survey.

Thank you for your cooperation and assistance.

Sincerely,
Senator George H. Winner, Jr.

Chairman Note: The US wind energy industry installed 5,244 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity in 2007, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The rapid growth boosts the total US wind power capacity by 45% in only one year. In fact, wind power provided 30% of the new generating capacity installed in the United States in 2007. And, in New York, there are currently six operating wind farms, five under construction, and at least 30 more planned. Prepared by the NYS Legislative Commission on Rural Resources January 2008

Synopsis of Article X Bills Senate Bill

Senate Bill 5908/ Assembly Bill 8697

Two bills (Senate 5908 and Assembly 8697) have been introduced in the state Legislature to re-authorize Article X of the Public Service Law that governs the siting of major electric generating facilities. Although not specifically mentioned anywhere in the proposed legislation, wind farm projects that meet certain kilowatt threshold capacities shown below would also be included in the siting review process along with power plants.

A statewide siting board would govern the review and approval of all such projects, with construction prohibited without applicants first obtaining an operating certificate. Applicants would provide the following information and materials: a description of the site and facility, alternative locations, environmental impacts, health impacts, generating plant costs and useful life, need for the plant, security issues, and provision for public notice and input.

Major electric generating facilities would be defined under the Assembly bill as those that meet or exceed a threshold of 30 thousand kilowatts. The Senate bill defines two types of electric generation facilities as being either “major” or “minor”, with corresponding thresholds of 80 thousand or more and 50 thousand or more kilowatts. Minor projects would be charged lower fees.

Both bills include provisions that create a pre-application process that requires applicants to file a preliminary scoping statement describing the project, its potential environmental impacts and proposed studies to evaluate those impacts. Such studies would include air and water quality, ecology, land use, noise, visual, cultural, socioeconomic, transportation and other considerations. The public would be kept abreast of the filing through published notices and other outreach efforts designed to encourage its participation.

The siting board would be required to determine if the proposed facility is in compliance with local laws and regulations, unless it finds that those local requirements are unreasonably restrictive in view of existing technology or the needs of or cost to rate payers. Municipalities or state agencies would be prohibited from requiring additional permits or approvals of a proposed facility beyond those expressly provided for under the legislation, with minor amendments. Conforming provisions from the state Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) clarify that actions taken by the siting board under Article X are not subject to the requirements of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (ECL Article 8).

The siting board would have 60 days to determine if an application complied with Article X and if so to set a date for a public hearing. Reviews of new projects with an expected capacity under 200 thousand kilowatts must be completed within 12 months after receipt of a complete application, with a 6 month extension available to projects exceeding 200 thousand kilowatts, if needed.

For more information on detailed provisions in the two bills, readers are encouraged to go to either the Senate or Assembly web sites at www.senate.state.ny.us or www.assembly.state. ny.us. Prepared by the NYS Legislative Commission on Rural Resources January 2008

Article%20X%20questionnaire%202-6-08.pdf

(Click on above link to take the Article X Survey)

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