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Lyme planners drafting new law for personal wind turbines

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CHAUMONT — Lyme town planners are drafting a new law limiting the placement and height of personal wind turbines with a goal to submit their final recommendation to the Town Council by the end of December.

Lyme Planning Board Chairman Frank J. Congel said town officials hope to get the new rules in place — not only for small wind, but also for solar and biomass energy development — by March 1, before the 2013 construction season.

There are a few Lyme residents, including Charles B. Kingsley, Point Peninsula, who are hoping to install private wind turbines to power their homes and farms in the near future.

Mr. Kingsley, at a Nov. 14 town board meeting, said the 80-foot height limit for private turbines once floated by the Planning Board is far too restrictive for his plans.

The cost of energy keeps going up, he said, and putting up a 140-foot turbine would help him subsidize his farm’s electrical bill.

Lyme Town Supervisor Scott G. Aubertine had said property owners should be allowed to reduce their energy bills by installing wind towers on their land as long as the structures do not threaten the safety of their neighbors and the public.

He recently submitted his own recommendations to the Planning Board that borrow different elements from zoning laws of other municipalities concerning small wind, solar and biomass.

For property sizes of one acre or more, Mr. Aubertine said in his proposal for small wind, there should be no limitation on maximum height as long as the structure meets Federal Aviation Administration requirements. But turbines on parcels as small as 0.5 acres should be no taller than 80 feet, he said.

Setbacks from roads, driveways and property lines would be 1.1 times the total height of the wind turbine under Mr. Aubertine’s proposal. Additionally, the town supervisor wants personal wind turbines to be placed at least 1.5 times their height away from nonparticipating buildings.

In stark contrast, the Planning Board at one point had considered a property line setback of 25 times the height of a structure.

In some instances, town ordinances are overridden by state Agriculture and Markets Law, with right-to-farm inclusions that allow farms within agricultural districts to erect structures outside of local zoning regulations. Henderson recently abandoned a challenge to a farm windmill based on that standard.

Mr. Congel, the Planning Board chairman, said the board members have looked at different standards for turbine setbacks and height limits but nothing is set in stone at this point.

Members of the Town Council and the Planning Board will hold a joint meeting at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at the town offices on Route 12E to discuss further how restrictive the proposed rules should be.

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