August 18, 2008
Planning Board Minutes
Oswego Town Hall
Chair: Jeffrey Boyer
Town Board Members: Francis Dellamano,
Lee Phillips, Barry Pritchard, Judy Sabin-Watson
Attorney To The Board: Stephen Greene, Jr.
Secretary: Joyce Molinari
to Order: The meeting of the Oswego Town Planning Board was called
to order at 7:02 p.m. by Board President Jeffrey Boyer.
Attendance: Those in attendance were:
Fran Dellamano commented that he felt the Zappala warehousing was not exactly the same as it had been, and that the members of the Planning Board are the ones who should do a site plan review and make the determination of whether it is the same use or not. He did not feel that this would be setting a good precedent for the future, to ignore the situation without the Planning Board doing a site plan review and making a determination.
Judy Watson pointed out that Mr. Zappala had been told by the Planning Board to return to the Board with further information.
Jeff Boyer read the portion in the May 19, 2008, minutes in which it was recorded that Mr. Zappala had been told by the Board to bring information, drawings, survey map, and pictures showing measurements, etc. Jeff then stated that he would draft a letter to Mr. Zappala and give it to the Board Secretary to have Mr. Zappala come talk to the Board.
It was decided to send copies of the letter to Vicky Mullen, Town Supervisor and Wayne Newton, Town CEO.
Several members questioned the addition to the Strawberry Patch residence, whether the building was a residence before and if it would continue to be the same. Jeff Boyer tabled that item until the next meeting, stating that he would then bring the letter from Wayne Newton, for further discussion
Judy Watson made the motion to accept the July 21, 2008, minutes as written. Barry Pritchard seconded the motion. All ayes; motion carried.
Old Business: None
New Business: Peter Wiltsie and John MacDonald, Site Plan Presentation for Proposed Windmill at 1055 County Route 20, for Board Discussion and Vote
Mr. MacDonald presented the site plan showing the location of the driveway of Mr. Wiltsie’s house, coming in from Caven Cove and the location of the house, which is approximately 250 feet from the nearest neighbor’s property line and 500 feet from County Route 20, with Mr. Wiltsie’s property consisting of approximately 60 acres.
Mr. MacDonald pointed out where the wind tower would be located and explained that, in order to get the grant, NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) requires the tower to be at a certain altitude, so that enough power can be generated. So Mr. Wiltsie’s site would require a 120-foot single pole tower. Mr. MacDonald then introduced Mike Parks to explain the process for installing a wind turbine and the benefits of becoming a “zero-energy” home.
Mr. Parks explained that, first, they looked at what Mr. Wiltsie had done in terms of heating and insulation. All utilities would be on site, but the goal is to not need these utilities. He went on to explain that they would need to come up with 35,000 kilowatt hours a year to make this house “zero-energy”. This wind turbine would produce about 25,000 kilowatt hours a year. He is proposing 10,000 kilowatt hours of solar energy to bring it up to the needed 35,000. He also explained that this pole has no guide wires, but if it had, they would be about 85 feet out.
Safety issues and the life expectancy of the wind turbine were then discussed. The windings on the turbine are expected to last 30 years, and the tower and foundation even longer. It has a DC motor that takes about 15 minutes to turn the wind turbine in the correct direction to get the most wind power. That means it would move no more than once every 15 minutes. The startup speed is four miles per hour, meaning it makes a lot of wind power at lower speeds. The weight of the head is almost 2000 pounds.
Mr. Parks went on to address some of the common objections people have to wind turbines. Some have worried about danger to migratory birds, but the DEC has written a letter to Mr. Parks stating that at 120 feet you are not into the flight patterns of these birds, so it is not an issue. Some have been concerned about the possibility of ice throw. Mr. Parks explained that if it gets out of balance, it shuts down, and ice throw has never been an issue.
In addition, there are safety measures built in so that, if the power on the grid goes off, the turbine also shuts down and won’t start up again until five minutes after the power from the utility company is back on. This avoids any back feed from the turbine to the grid, possibly injuring someone working on the power problem. Also, when the wind turbine is first installed, the utility company inspects the hookup at the site to make sure it is installed correctly, before they will sign off and allow the turbine to be started.
In answer to Lee Phillips’ question about lightning strikes, Mr. Parks explained that they are properly grounded and inspected, so that, even if lightning strikes, it is very unlikely that there would be any damage.
Barry Pritchard asked about the sea level elevation, for the purpose of comparing it to other places in the area. The answer was that it is 103 meters (338 feet) above sea level at the site. Then it has a 120-foot pole, plus 12-foot blades for an additional 132 feet above sea level to the very top.
Mr. Parks also addressed the possibility of noise issues. In noise studies they’ve done, they’ve found that the wind turbine is only10 decibels above the actual ambient from the wind at 120 feet.
There was discussion about the differences between different types of turbines, ReDriven and Burgee, and the heights that are necessary to make wind turbines feasible. NYSERDA does not give grants for turbines less than 80 feet, as the power produced is less and the winds are more turbulent.
Jeff Boyer brought up the question of continued maintenance or abandonment if a property is sold. Mr. Parks said that there is a maintenance agreement.
Lee Phillips questioned who would be responsible for making the rules for wind turbines.
Greg Auleta explained that the committee he and Judy Watson are on, working on the zoning regulations, has been trying to address the issue of wind turbines. He also thought that the Zoning Board should build something into the granting of a variance which would address the maintenance issue and the possible removal of no-longer-used wind turbines.
Judy Watson told about the local law that was recently passed by Volney for residential- use wind turbines. It included a clause of abandonment after one year.
Mr. Parks told that the ReDriven company has almost completed an internet connection which will monitor and store information about usage, so that, if usage drops off significantly, the contractor would be notified and could check on the customer’s wind turbine to make sure it is working properly. There are other methods of checking power production using satellites.
Mr. Parks explained that geo-thermal heat is very efficient. It can move the temperature in a house from 50 degrees up to 70 degrees with 12,000 to 15000 kilowatt hours per year, versus 45,000 kilowatt hours per year with electric resistance heat.
Mr. MacDonald said that it is about a 4-to-1 ratio. For every kilowatt hour you produce, it will give you the equivalent of four kilowatts of heating and cooling.
Mr. Wiltsie then asked about the process from this point on to get the variance approved. Greg Auleta suggested that it is important to get neighbors to understand and go along. He explained that, by law, in the granting of a variance the Zoning Board must build into the resolution that they have looked at the issue of whether it will disturb the neighborhood, and have determined on the basis of information that the applicant has presented, that the neighborhood doesn’t care. He went on to explain that if there are complaints from neighbors at the ZBA hearing, then, possibly, the vote could be postponed for another month, giving Mr. Wiltsie time to work the problem through with the neighbors, then come back. He also explained the kinds of things the ZBA might write into the variance, such as abandonment, replacement, or disassembly issues.
Jeff Boyer summarized the process by saying that Mr. Wiltsie would go to the Zoning Board this Thursday, August 21st, and if there are no major objections, then the Zoning Board could approve the variance. If there are objections, a month would be provided for the problems to be resolved and to get disposition of the 239 from the County Planning Board. Then Mr. Wiltsie would go back to the Zoning Board, and if there was a vote to approve the variance, Mr. Wiltsie would come to the Planning Board at the next meeting for the Site Plan Hearing, with disposition by the Planning Board.
Francis Dellamano asked about the dimensions of the concrete pad. Mr. Parks told that the pad would be 16’x16’ and 12’ deep, made of concrete and rebar.
Public Comment: None
Open Board Discussion: Judy Watson thought that the Planning Board should send a letter to the Town Board suggesting that they might want to pass zoning regulations governing alternative sources of energy soon, as there is growing interest in the subject.
In answer to a question from Fran Dellamano, Greg Auleta explained that in the new zoning regulations there will be five R designations (R1, R2, R3, R4, and R In Transition, plus Business).
Discussion followed on whether wind turbines should be allowed in R1 and R2. Barry Pritchard said that he believed it should be decided by the amount of acreage, rather than the district. Fran Dellamano felt that visual impact should also be considered.
Judy Watson then made a motion that a letter be sent to the Town Board, encouraging them to adopt a local law for the regulating of wind energy and conversion systems along with a copy of the resolution that was prepared for the Town of Volney by Caraccioli & Nelson, for their perusal. Fran Dellamano seconded.
Judy Watson stated that in the Volney resolution there was no issue about any kind of bond that would be held if the Town had to take the responsibility of taking a wind turbine down that had been out of use or abandoned. She felt that the Town Board could adopt a local law for short term, until the new zoning laws are put into place.
The Board members continued with discussion on the problem of restricting the zoning areas that could have wind turbines without special variance and what length of time constitutes abandonment. No other conclusions or recommendations were reached.
Adjournment: The motion was made by Lee Phillips to adjourn and seconded by Barry Pritchard. The meeting was adjourned at 8:20 p.m. The next meeting will be September 15, 2008.
Secretary to the Planning Board