Town of Potsdam, NY
St. Lawrence County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

§ 108-23
Purpose and intent. 

§ 108-24
Permitted areas. 

§ 108-25
Applications. 

§ 108-26
Application review process. 

§ 108-27
Development standards. 

§ 108-28
Standards. 

§ 108-29
Abandonment of use; revocation of permit; maintenance. 

The purpose of this article is to provide standards for small wind energy conversion systems designed for on-site home, farm, and small commercial use, and that are primarily used to reduce on-site consumption of utility power. The intent of this article is to encourage the development of small wind energy systems and to protect the public health, safety, and community welfare.

Small wind energy conversion systems (small WECS) may be permitted in any zoning district on a site of at least two acres, upon issuance of a special use permit. A small WECS shall be set back from all property lines a distance equal to at least 1.5 times its height and must conform to all existing building codes in relationship to towers.

Applications for small WECS special use permits shall include:

A. 

Name, address and telephone number of the applicant; if the applicant will be represented by an agent, the name, address, and telephone number of the agent as well as an original signature of the applicant authorizing the agent to represent the applicant.

B. 

Name, address and telephone number of the property owner. If the property owner is not the applicant, the application shall include a letter or other written permission signed by the property owner:

(1) 

Confirming that the property owner is familiar with the proposed applications; and

(2) 

Authorizing the submission of the application.

C. 

Address of each proposed tower site, including Tax Map section, block, and lot number.

D. 

Site plan of each tower site, including but not limited to showing the location of the tower in relation to other structures and lot lines, topography of the site, location of trees, and other landscape elements.

E. 

Ownership and land use information within a five-hundred-foot radius of the location proposed for each tower.

F. 

Evidence that the proposed tower height does not exceed the height recommended by the manufacturer or distributor of the system.

G. 

A line drawing of the electrical components of the system in sufficient detail to allow for a determination that the manner of installation conforms to the Electric Code.

H. 

Sufficient information demonstrating that the system will be used primarily to reduce on-site consumption of electricity.

I. 

Written evidence that the electric utility service provider that serves the proposed site has been informed of the applicant's intent to install an interconnected customer-owned electricity generator, unless the applicant does not plan to connect the system to the electricity grid, and so states so in the application.

J. 

A visual analysis of the small WECS as installed, which may include a computerized photographic simulation, demonstrating the visual impacts from nearby strategic vantage points. The visual analysis shall also indicate the color treatment of the system's components and any visual screening incorporated into the project that is intended to lessen the system's visual prominence.

A. 

Applicants may request a preapplication meeting with the Town Planning Board, or with any consultants retained by the Planning Board for application review. Meetings with the Planning Board shall be conducted in accordance with the Open Meetings Law.

B. 

Twelve copies of the application shall be submitted to the Town Clerk. Payment of all application fees shall be made at the time of application submission. If any variances are requested, variance application fees shall be paid at the time of the receipt of the application.

C. 

Town staff or Town-designated consultants shall, within 30 days of receipt, or such longer time as agreed to by the applicant, determine if all information required under this article is included in the application. Unless the Planning Board waives any application requirement, no application shall be considered until deemed complete.

D. 

If the application is deemed incomplete, the Planning Board or its designated reviewer shall provide the applicant with a written statement listing the missing information. No refund of application fees shall be made, but no additional fees shall be required upon submittal of the additional information unless the number of small WECSs proposed is increased.

E. 

Upon submission of a complete application, including the grant of any application waiver by the Planning Board, the Town Clerk shall transmit the application to the Planning Board.

F. 

The Planning Board shall hold at least one public hearing on the application. Notice shall be given by first class mail to property owners within 1,000 feet of each proposed small WECS and published in the Town's official newspaper, no fewer than 10 nor more than 20 days before any hearing, but, where any hearing is adjourned by the Planning Board to hear additional comments, no further publication or mailing shall be required. The applicant shall prepare and mail the notice of public hearing prepared by the Planning Board, and shall submit an affidavit of service. The assessment roll of the Town shall be used to determine mailing addresses.

G. 

The public hearing may be combined with public hearings on any environmental impact statement or requested variances.

H. 

Notice of the project shall also be given, when applicable, to:

(1) 

The St. Lawrence County Planning Board, if required by General Municipal Law §§ 239-l and 239-m; and

(2) 

Adjoining towns under Town Law § 264.

I. 

SEQRA review. Applications for WECS are deemed unlisted projects under SEQRA. The Planning Board may conduct its SEQRA review in conjunction with other agencies, in which case the records of review by said communities shall be part of the record of the Planning Board's proceedings. The Planning Board may require an escrow agreement for the engineering and legal review of the applications and any environmental impact statements before commencing its review.

J. 

Upon receipt of the report of the recommendation of the County Planning Board (where applicable), the holding of the public hearing, and the completion of the SEQRA process, the Planning Board may approve, approve with conditions, or deny the applications, in accordance with the standards in this article.

All small wind energy systems shall comply with the following standards. Additionally, such systems shall also comply with all the requirements established by other sections of this article that are not in conflict with the requirements contained in this section.

A. 

A small WECS system shall be located on a lot a minimum of two acres in size; however, this requirement can be met by multiple owners submitting a joint application.

B. 

Small WECSs may be used primarily to generate on-site power or to reduce the on-site consumption of electricity.

C. 

Tower height may be allowed to vary, dependent on the technology employed. However, setbacks from all property lines shall be maintained, at a minimum, at 1 1/2 times the total height of the tower.

(1) 

The allowed height shall be reduced if necessary to comply with all applicable Federal Aviation Administration requirements, including Subpart B (commencing with Section 77.111) of Part 77 of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations regarding installations close to airports.

D. 

The system's tower and blades shall be painted a nonreflective, unobtrusive color that blends the system and its components into the surrounding landscape to the greatest extent possible and incorporate nonreflective surfaces to minimize any visual disruption.

E. 

The system shall be designed and located in such a manner as to minimize adverse visual impacts from public viewing areas (e.g., public parks, roads, trails). To the greatest extent feasible, a small wind energy system shall use natural landforms and vegetation for screening.

F. 

Exterior lighting on any structure associated with the system shall not be allowed except that which is specifically required by the Federal Aviation Administration.

G. 

All on-site electrical wires associated with the system shall be installed underground except for "tie-ins" to a public utility company and public utility company transmission poles, towers, and lines. This standard may be modified by the Town if the project terrain is determined to be unsuitable due to reasons of excessive grading, biological impacts, or similar factors.

H. 

The system shall be operated such that no disruptive electromagnetic interference is caused. If it has been demonstrated that a system is causing harmful interference, the system operator shall promptly mitigate the harmful interference or cease operation of the system.

I. 

The system shall be operated such that no damage is caused by stray voltage. If it has been demonstrated that a system is causing stray voltage, the system operator shall promptly mitigate the damage or cease operation of the system.

J. 

At least one sign shall be posted on the tower at a height of five feet warning of electrical shock or high voltage and harm from revolving machinery. No brand names, logo, or advertising shall be placed or painted on the tower, rotor, generator or tail vane where it may be displayed on a system generator housing in an unobtrusive manner.

K. 

Towers shall be constructed to provide one of the following means of access control, or other appropriate method of access:

(1) 

Tower-climbing apparatus located no closer than 12 feet to the ground.

(2) 

A locked anti-climb device installed on the tower.

L. 

Anchor points for any guy wires for a system tower shall be located within the property on which the system is located and not on or across any aboveground electric transmission or distribution lines. The point of attachment for the guy wires shall be sheathed in bright orange or yellow covering from three feet to eight feet above the ground.

M. 

Construction of on-site access roadways shall be minimized. Temporary access roads utilized for initial installation shall be regraded and revegetated to the pre-existing natural condition after completion of installation.

N. 

To prevent harmful wind turbulence from existing structures, the minimum height of the lowest part of any horizontal axis wind turbine blade shall be at least 30 feet above the highest structure or tree within a two-hundred-fifty-foot radius. Modification of this standard may be made when the applicant demonstrates that a lower height will not jeopardize the safety of the wind turbine structure.

O. 

All small wind energy system tower structures shall be designed and constructed to be in compliance with pertinent provisions of the Uniform Building Code and National Electric Code.

P. 

All small wind energy systems shall be equipped with manual and automatic over-speed controls. The conformance of rotor and over-speed control design and fabrication with good engineering practices shall be certified by the manufacturer.

Q. 

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets guidelines for agricultural mitigation for wind power projects shall be adhered to both inside and outside of agricultural districts.

A small wind energy system shall comply with the following standards:

A. 

Setback requirements. A small WECS shall not be located closer to a property line than 1 1/2 times the total height of the facility.

B. 

Noise. Except during short-term events, including utility outages and severe windstorms, a small WECS shall be designed, installed, and operated so that noise generated by the system shall not exceed 50 decibels(dBA), as measured at the closest neighboring inhabited dwelling.

A. 

A small WECS which is not used for 12 successive months shall be deemed abandoned and shall be dismantled and removed from the property at the expense of the property owner. Failure to abide by and faithfully comply with this section or with any and all conditions that may be attached to the granting of any building permit shall constitute grounds for the revocation of the permit by the Town of Potsdam.

B. 

All small WECSs shall be maintained in good condition and in accordance with all requirements of this section.

C. 

Failure to comply with this section will be enforced according to § 108-32 of this chapter.