Hopkinton Wind Advisory Board approves wind overlay zone; town board needs unanimous vote for approval
By MATT LINDSEY
HOPKINTON — The Hopkinton Wind Advisory Board approved a wind overlay zone that will not expand the land where wind towers can be placed, which will keep the proposed 500-foot turbines away from the Adirondack Park.
However, the vote to approve the wind overlay zone would need to be unanimous for the three members who intend to vote. Two town council members are abstaining from votes related to wind power because members of their family are leaseholders with Avangrid.The overlay zone is nearly identical to one proposed in 2011. The board made the approval at a meeting Wednesday night at the town hall.
“They (Hopkinton Wind Advisory Board) did the best they could based on the information they had,” said Hopkinton Town Supervisor Susan Wood.
The decision came following a request from wind farm developer Avangrid Renewables to expand the wind overlay zone closer to the Adirondack Park.
Avangrid, a subsidiary of Iberdrola, is heading the North Ridge Wind Farm, which calls for about 40 wind towers to be constructed on land in Hopkinton and Parishville.
Wood said that wind developers were having issues siting towers due to proposed setbacks in Hopkinton and Parishville. Parishville has proposed 2,500 feet setbacks from property lines and Hopkinton is looking to change their setback requirements from 1,800 to 2,500 feet.
This lead to Avangrid asking to place towers on land south of State Highway 72 because there are fewer residences to consider when siting. This drew the attention of the Adirondack Council.
The Adirondack Council recently expressed concern with wind towers being place so close to the Adirondack Park, citing ecological, wildlife and economic concerns in an April 26-May 2 North County This Week article “Council Has Questions on Wind Farm.”
The proposed overlay zone will be passed on to the county, who will make recommendations to the Hopkinton Town Board, before passing it on to the Hopkinton Town Board for a vote.
When asked if only having three members of the town council able to vote on wind power issues was an issue or conflict of interest, Town Supervisor Wood said, “I can’t answer that – I don't believe it will as I have not had discussions with the board about it.”
Town council members Gilbert Sochia and Greg Crump abstained from voting on a moratorium in March because their family members are leaseholders with Avangrid.
Town council members Susan Lyon and Susan Wood voted in favor while Steve Parker Jr. voted against the moratorium. The moratorium originally was “passed” with a 2-1 vote, but according Wood, the board needed three votes to pass the moratorium.
There have been suggestions in the community for Sochia and Crump to step down.
“They were elected by the people (in 2013),” Wood said, noting that there will not be discussion to remove the two councilmen because “they can’t be removed.”
Wood said they men could volunteer to step down or residents could submit a petition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in an attempt to have them removed.
Crump and Sochia will have their town council seats up for re-election in November.
The original overlay zone was intended to be filed in 2011, but it did not happen. Wood said town officials were not sure why the zoning was not filed at that time.
A public hearing date will be set prior to the town board voting on the overlay zone. The board next meets May 15.
Depending on how quickly the county reviews and makes recommendations will decided when the public hearing is set.
The Hopkinton Wind Advisory Board is scheduled to meet May 3 at 7 p.m.