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Hearing on proposed changes to Newstead’s wind turbine law draws no public comments

A public hearing on proposed changes to Newstead’s wind turbine law drew no comments from the handful of residents on hand at Monday evening’s Town Board meeting.

Supervisor David L. Cummings said he was “surprised” by the low turnout at the meeting.

“I thought we’d have a lot more people here tonight,” he said.

Board members had prepared for more public interest in the proposed law, allotting 20 minutes for the hearing, compared with five or 10 minutes given to other hearings.

However, Cummings said he took the low turnout as approval of the board’s actions on the law from town residents interested in the topic.

“I’m sure that people who are concerned about the issue looked at it and apparently agreed,” he said. “The only way you can interpret it is that they agree that the proper changes were made.”

The town implemented a six-month moratorium on wind energy in April while the board addressed residential wind turbines.

With no comments during the hearing, the board planned to move ahead with a vote on the proposed law, but that was put aside when Town Attorney Nathan S. Neill noticed that the town didn’t have approval from Erie County Planning Board to move ahead with the vote.

The Town Board will now vote on the measure at its Sept. 28 meeting.

The proposed law includes sections designating where the windmills can be placed, how high they can be and how loud. According to the law, wind turbines are not to exceed 50 decibels at 20 miles per hour. Windmills must also be set 500 feet away from residential structures “owned by non-site owners.”

One of the goals of the proposed law is to clarify the process for residents interested in putting a windmill on their property, Cummings said.

“We’re trying to make the process simpler and easy to understand for the people,” he said.

The moratorium on windmills in the town would end if the board approves the law Sept. 28

In other business, Town Assessor Rebecca K. Baker announced her resignation in order to take a position with the Town of Lancaster. Her resignation goes into effect at the end of the month.

“We’re going to advertise the position, and we’re reaching out to the other towns in Erie County and Western New York to see if there is anyone available,” Cummings said. “We’ll see if anyone wants to share. A lot of towns do shared services.”

“We’re going to miss her,” Councilman James Mayrose said.