After more than a year of research and debate, Greenwood voters Monday will decide the fate of proposed amendments to the commercial wind farm section of town ordinance.
The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion Hall on Gore Road, next to the Town Office.
The Calpine Corporation has been studying the viability of a 13-turbine ‘Long Mountain Wind Farm’ project in the area of Long, Tibbetts and Elwell mountains, near Twitchell Pond. Prompted by the potential development, Greenwood’s Ordinance Review Committee has proposed the updates for the ordinance.
Many property owners have expressed concern about what they say are possible negative effects of wind turbines in areas such as noise, health, scenic resources, wildlife and property values.
One new ordinance provision – the height restriction on turbine towers – would effectively ban commercial wind projects, according to town officials.
Under the current ordinance, there are no tower height limits specified.
The ORC has recommended limiting tower heights to 250 feet (as measured from the tower base to the highest point of any turbine rotor blade, at the highest arc of the blade).
Calpine has said its wind facility would need towers that are more than 500 feet in height, and the project would likely utilize 600-foot towers.
The town’s existing ordinance limits decibel levels from routine operation of wind turbines to 55 decibels daytime and 42 at night at non-participating landowner property lines, the same as state guidelines. Setbacks from property lines are a minimum of 150 percent of the height of the towers.
The new ordinance proposal includes a recommendation for decibel limits with a daytime audible decibel maximum of 35, and 25 decibels at night.
New setbacks of one mile per 100 feet of tower height would also be established.
Among other areas addressed by the ordinance and/or in discussion at Greenwood meetings are considerations of health, wildlife and scenic resources, as well as procedures for filing complaints and for decommissioning the turbines.
Regarding the financial impact of a project on the town, Calpine has presented figures on the net property tax revenue it said Greenwood would gain from a wind farm, as well as a proposal for a community benefits agreement, under which Greenwood and local organizations would receive money annually from the wind company.
Calpine said the wind farm would create average net property tax revenues of more than $423,000 a year for 30 years, and would provide community payments to the town of around $7,700 per year per turbine, for an annual estimated total of $100,000, for 20 years. The company said it would also donate funds to community organizations at about $10,000 a year for 20 years.
Wind opponents have said that properties near wind farms see their values decline, while supporters say they do not.
The ORC meetings have been well attended over the past year by residents and non-resident property owners.
Copies of the proposed ordinance changes, minutes of the ORC meetings and other related documents are available at the Greenwood Town Office.