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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Town of Union Plan: Wind Turbine draft ordinance refined: 7-28-2008

The Town of Union Planning Commission on Monday night, July 28, 2008, spent three hours reviewing with counsel, the text of the draft wind turbine ordinance. The purpose of the review was, as explained by counsel, to simply and forcefully connect the facts that were found in the evidence to the text of the ordinance. Thus, one of the most discussed topics was the factual evidence of damage that "noise" produced by wind turbines create---and whether the set back in the ordinance reflects the evidence cited in the appendix of evidence that has been gathered.

There was some discussion that the evidence listed in the study committee that is cited in the ordinance would lead to a set back greater than 1/2 mile. The study committee appeared to weigh the evidence and then "round down". This would not create any margin of safety. The decison was not made on what the set back should be, but whatever it is, the evidence cited will be most defensible, strong, and effective, if it matches the ordinance language.

The other discussion that took some time was the enforceability of the ordinance. If in fact, the committee envisions little ability to enforce the ordinance by forceful removal, it would be logical to add some distance to the set back, in light of the fact that sound modeling prior to erection of the turbines is fraught with error. The set back provisions are the only remaining element in the ordinance that can compensate for the frailty of the current technology that models sound.

The actual impact of the sound on humans was discussed. In some literature this impact is called "annoyance" but the actual impact may vary between different people at the same sound levels. One person may suffer anxiety, and the other some other element of a broad list of symptoms. The actual sound levels that are acceptable will be listed in the ordinance.

Finally the question of improving technology was addressed. The question of how to fashion an ordinance that would be able to address a new model of wind turbine in the future---without having to rewrite the one being drafted and thus incurring the huge expense of the drafting processing.

Because of the nature of the lengthy discussion, I have chosen to post only a few video cuts. I think it best for those interested to listen to the full uncut audio that can be downloaded to your ipod.

Click on the post for the entire audio of the meeting. 3 hours.

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