updated 3/16/11

Horizon in Machias, Yorkshire and Ashford

Horizon Wind Energy, which operates New York's largest wind farm, the Maple Ridge Wind Farm, has purchased leases from dozens of property owners in the adjacent towns of Machias, Yorkshire and Ashford, but most local officials don't want a wind farm.

On August 9, 2010, Ashford adopted a local law requiring wind turbines to emit no more than 50 decibels at the closest "non-participating" property boundary, without regard to distance.  A "participating residence" is defined as a residence included within a parcel or lot whose owner has signed an agreement with Horizon to allow higher noise levels. Thus, if a neighbor has signed a lease allowing Horizon to site a wind turbine on his land, if there are no participating residences adjacent to him Horizon will need to purchase noise waivers from all properties within the zone where 50 dBA would result from turbine noise. Although its leases include noise waivers, this requires Horizon to purchase many more noise waivers.

On October 18, 2010 Machias adopted a local law limiting noise from wind turbines to 3 decibels above the existing background sound level, which has been measured at about 25 dBA in locations near Horizon leases. The limit on increased sound is excused for properties where Horizon has purchased a noise waiver and recorded the waiver with the county clerk. This requires Horizon to purchase many more noise waivers.

On March 13, 2011 Yorkshire denied Horizon a renewal of its variance for a met tower, requiring Horizon to remove the tower. This effectively ends Horizon's involvement in Yorkshire.

The combined effect of the actions of these three towns is to make the Horizon project proposal very difficult if not impossible.

A local group of property owners (some who live out the area) has formed to boost the Horizon wind farm project in the three towns, and disseminate industry-sponsored information designed to diminish the potential impacts of a wind farm on local residents, and exaggerate local benefits. See S.M.A.R.T.'s website.

Noise impacts are the limiting factor in siting and regulating a wind farm. Wind turbine noise is distinctively annoying and will likely affect the health of some people exposed to chronic immissions of low levels of impulsive or modulating noise that contains a substantial low frequency component, which makes the noise carry long distances. On August 28, 2009, a letter summarizing the potential for such impacts was sent to Machias.

Local laws for siting wind farms in Machias, Yorkshire and Ashford

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