[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Lyons. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Town Board of the Town of Lyons adopts this chapter to promote the effective and efficient use of the Town's wind energy resource through wind energy conversion systems (WECS), and to regulate the placement of such systems so that the public health, safety and welfare will not be jeopardized.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Environmental assessment form; used in the implementation of the SEQRA, as that term is defined in Part 617 of Title 6 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations.
- LARGE WECS
- A wind energy conversion system which has a rated capacity of greater than 100 kW and which is intended to produce electrical power for use off-site.
- The New York State Environmental Quality Review Act and its implementing regulations in Title 6 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations, Part 617.
- The parcel(s) of land where a WECS facility is to be placed. The site may be publicly or privately owned by an individual or group of individuals controlling single or adjacent properties. Where multiple lots are in joint ownership, the combined lots shall be considered as one for purposes of applying setback requirements.
- SMALL WECS
- A wind energy conversion system which has a rated capacity of not more than 100 kW and which is less than 50 feet in total height and which is intended, primarily, to reduce consumption of utility power at its own site or for the pumping of water.
- TOTAL HEIGHT
- The height of the tower and the furthest vertical extension of the WECS from the ground on which it stands.
- WECS FACILITY
- Any wind energy conversion system, including all related infrastructure, electrical transmission lines and substations, access roads and accessory structures.
- WIND ENERGY CONVERSION SYSTEM or WECS
- A machine that converts the kinetic energy of the wind into a usable form (commonly known as a "wind turbine" or "windmill") and consisting of a wind turbine, a tower and associated control and transmission equipment. The turbine or windmill has a rotor or propeller which may be on a horizontal or vertical axis.
Editor's Note: See Environmental Conservation Law Art. 8, § 8-0101 et seq.
Small WECS and large WECS shall be permitted within the Residential-Agricultural (R-A) and Industrial (M-1) Districts only.
Where permitted, large or small WECS shall not be constructed, erected or installed without a special permit having been issued by the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Lyons. In issuing such permits, the Board shall find that the WECS will comply with the general standards for special permits plus all of the specific standards set forth in this chapter.
The information to be provided by the applicant for a large WECS shall include:
The applicant's and landowner's name(s) and contact information.
The Tax Map numbers, existing use and acreage of the site parcel(s).
A survey map at an appropriate scale showing the proposed location of the elements of the WECS as it relates to:
Boundaries of the parcel.
Adjacent ownerships and structures to a distance of 1,000 feet.
Adjacent schools and churches to a distance of 2,000 feet.
Adjacent county or local parks, recognized historic or heritage sites, state-identified wetlands or important bird areas as identified in federal, state, county or New York Audubon GIS databases for a distance of 3,000 feet.
Standard drawings of the wind turbine structure, including the tower, foundation and access road(s).
Engineering analysis, data and certification pertaining to safety and stability of the tower, wind turbine structure and foundation, including compliance with the applicable building code and safety results from test facilities.
A completed EAF (environmental assessment form).
Proposal for landscaping and screening.
A project visibility map, based on a digital elevation model, showing the impact of topography upon visibility of the project from other locations, to a radius of three miles from the center of the project. The scale used shall depict the three-mile radius as no smaller than 2.7 inches, and the base map used shall be a published topographic map showing man-made features such as roads and buildings.
No fewer than four, and no more than the number of proposed individual wind turbines, color photos, no smaller than four inches by six inches, taken from locations within a three-mile radius from the center of the project and to be selected by the Planning Board, and computer-enhanced to simulate the appearance of the as-built facilities as they would appear from said locations.
A host community agreement, drafted with interaction between the Town of Lyons and the developer, that addresses both environmental and economic issues with regard to siting, energy benefits, financial considerations, and future responsibilities of any project within the Town of Lyons.
Small WECS shall be located such that tip-over will be harmless to persons or property.
No experimental, home-built or prototype wind turbines shall be allowed without documentation by the applicant of the maximum probable blade throw distance in the event of failure of the proposed equipment and a determination by the Planning Board of appropriate setback distances on the basis of said documentation.
Guy wires shall not be used to anchor small wind turbine towers.
The maximum permitted total height of a small WECS shall be 50 feet.
Small WECS shall not be artificially lighted.
No more than one windmill or tower shall be permitted as an accessory use to any property.
Towers shall be located in either a rear yard or side yard. Applicants seeking a side yard siting shall demonstrate that such a location is essential to the viability of the proposed small WECS.
Sound levels shall not exceed 25 dbA, measured at any location along the boundary of the site parcel.
All small WECS shall be designed with an automatic brake to prevent overspeeding and excessive pressure on the tower structure.
The minimum distance between the ground and any protruding blades on a small WECS shall not be less than 10 feet as measured at the lowest point of the arc of the blades.
In addition to the application requirements specified for site development permits, an application for a special permit for a large WECS or wind generator shall show:
Location of tower on site and tower height, including blades, rotor diameter and ground clearance.
All utility lines both above and below ground within a radius equal to the proposed tower height, including blades.
Dimensional representation of the various structural components of the tower construction, including the base and footings.
Design data indicating the basis of design, including manufacturer's dimensional drawings, installation and operation instructions.
Certification by a registered professional engineer or manufacturer's certification that the tower design is sufficient to withstand wind-load requirements for structures.
No large WECS, including blades, shall extend more than 400 feet above the average ground level measured at the base of the tower.
No large WECS shall be erected in any location where its overall height, including blades, is greater than the distance from its base to any property line.
Access to the tower shall be limited either by means of a fence six feet high around the tower base, with a locking portal, or by limiting tower climbing apparatus to no lower than 12 feet from the ground.
No large WECS shall be installed in any location along the major axis of an existing microwave communications link where the operation of the windmill is likely to produce an unacceptable level of electromagnetic interference, unless the applicant provides sufficient evidence satisfactory to the Town Board indicating the degree of expected interference and the possible effect on the microwave communications link.
Large WECS shall be located or installed in compliance with the guidelines of the Federal Aviation Regulations with regard to airport approach zones (47 CFR 15.503) and clearance around VOR and DVOR stations.
All sites proposed for large WECS shall have sufficient access to unimpeded air flow for adequate operation. The Siting Handbook for Small Wind Energy Conversion Systems, PNL-2521, or other nationally recognized references should be used as a guide in siting the location of towers.
No large WECS shall be installed in a location where the impact on the neighborhood character is determined by the Town Board to be detrimental to the general neighborhood character.
If the large WECS is to be interconnected to an electric utility distribution system, the applicant shall provide evidence of approval of the proposed interconnection by any applicable power company.
Towers shall utilize the natural contours of the land to minimize visibility.
All large WECS shall be designed with an automatic brake to prevent overspeeding and excessive pressure on the tower structure.
The minimum distance between the ground and any protruding blades shall not be less than 30 feet as measured at the lowest point of the arc of the blades.
The minimum required setback distance between each large WECS and all surrounding property lines, overhead utility or transmission lines, any other wind turbine towers, electrical substations, meteorological towers, public roads, dwellings or other buildings for occupancy shall be no less than 1.5 times the sum of the proposed structure height plus the rotor radius.
Large WECS shall be located with relation to property lines such that the level of noise produced during wind turbine operation shall not exceed 50 dbA, measured at any location along the boundary of the site parcel as it exists at the time of the issuance of the special permit.
Existing roads shall be used to access the WECS facility site; or if a new road(s) must be constructed, the amount of land utilized for new road construction shall be minimized so as to lessen any adverse environmental impact.
Any construction involving agricultural land shall be done according to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Guidelines for Agricultural Mitigation of Wind Power Projects (which can be found at www.agriculture.ny.gov; "construction projects affecting farmland").
No WECS facility shall be installed in any location where its proximity with existing fixed broadcast, retransmission, or reception antennas (including residential reception antennas) for radio, television, or wireless phone or other personal communication systems would produce electromagnetic interference with signal transmission or reception.
No WECS facility shall be installed in any location that would substantially detract from or block view of a portion of a recognized scenic vista, as viewed from any public road right-of-way, public body of water, or publicly owned land within the Town of Lyons or that extends beyond the border of the Town of Lyons.
All power transmission lines shall be located underground to the maximum extent practicable.
Guy wires shall not be used to anchor large WECS wind turbine towers.
The WECS facility shall not be artificially lighted, except to the extent required by the FAA or other applicable authority. The use of nighttime (and overcast daytime condition) stroboscopic lighting to satisfy tower lighting requirements for the FAA is disfavored. If stroboscopic lighting is used, it shall be subject to on-site field testing, with specific respect to flash nuisance to adjacent ownerships, prior to any Planning Board approval.
The WECS facility and wind turbine equipment shall not be used for displaying advertising except for small and reasonable identification of the manufacturer or operator of the WECS facility.
The design of any WECS facility building(s) or related structures shall, to the extent reasonably possible, use materials, colors, textures, screening and landscaping that will allow the facility to blend into the natural setting and existing environment.
Procedures for emergency shutdown of power generation units shall be established and shall be posted prominently and permanently at a location near the entrance to the large WECS facility site.
Prior to issuance of a special permit for a large WECS and during construction and continuing thereafter until such facility is removed from the site, the applicant shall provide, on a yearly basis, documentation satisfactory to the Town of Lyons, certifying that the owner of the site currently carries liability insurance coverage for property damage, injury or death resulting from the construction, placement, use, maintenance, and operation of said large WECS facility. Liability insurance coverage shall have reasonable limits as determined by the Town Board in consultation with the Town's insurer.
Each approved large WECS shall be maintained in accordance with the specific standards described in this section.
The owner of each large WECS shall have it inspected at least every three years for structural and operational integrity by a New York State licensed professional engineer, and shall submit a copy of the inspection report to the Code Enforcement Officer. If such report recommends repairs or maintenance, the owner shall provide the Code Enforcement Officer with a written schedule for completion of said repairs or maintenance.
Any large WECS found to be unsafe by the local enforcement officer shall be repaired by the owner to meet federal, state and local safety standards or shall be removed from the site.
Obsolete or unused wind turbines and accessory structures shall be removed from any large WECS site within one year of the discontinuance of the use thereof. The owner of the obsolete or unused large WECS facilities shall notify the Town Supervisor of the Town of Lyons in writing within 30 days of the discontinuance of the use of said facilities. Failure to notify and/or remove the obsolete or unused wind turbines and accessory structures in accordance with these regulations shall be a violation of this chapter. The Town Board may remove such facilities after one year and treat the cost of said removal as a tax lien on the property.
The Town Board may require, as a condition precedent to the issuance of any special permit, that the applicant enter into a host community package acceptable to the Town of Lyons to provide payment to the Town for the environmental and economic impact of the WECS.
No special permit may be issued by the Town Board until a public hearing has been held thereon, at which members of the public may comment on the following standards, which the Town Board must specifically determine have been met:
The proposed special use is consistent with the general intent of the Town's Master Plan and with each of the specific purposes set forth in this chapter.
The location, size and use of the structures involved, nature and intensity of the operations involved and size and layout of the site in relation to the proposed special use are such that it will be compatible with the orderly development of the area of the site.
Operation of the proposed special use is no more objectionable to the uses of nearby properties by reason of dust or smoke emission, noise, odors, fumes, pollution of air or water, including subsurface waters, unsightliness or similar conditions than would be the operation of any permitted use.
The proposed special use satisfies each and all of the standards and conditions specified for such special use by the relevant provisions of this chapter.
The Town Board may impose additional conditions or restrictions as it may deem necessary prior to approving any special use permit application in order to protect public health and safety, the quality of the Town's natural resource base and the value of property. The Zoning Officer shall make an on-site visit to each property authorized as a special use not less than one time each year. The purpose of said site visit is to ensure that the use is being operated in accord with the conditions specified by the Town Board. If the Zoning Officer shall determine that a violation of this chapter or the conditions imposed by the Town Board exists, the certificate of occupancy and/or certificate of compliance shall be null and void. A new special use permit application shall be required to be submitted and approved prior to the reestablishment of said use.
Violation of any of the terms or requirements of this chapter shall be punishable as a zoning violation in accordance with Chapter 300, Zoning, of the Town Code.