Prospect continues hearing on suggested wind-power rules

PROSPECT — It’s better to have town regulations for wind power than not to have any, said an attorney representing a local man who is proposing new regulations for wind facilities in town.

N. Warren Hess III of Naugatuck, an attorney for resident Thomas Satkunas, told members of the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission at a hearing Jan. 19 that the proposed regulations are townwide, and not site specific.

Currently, there are no regulations in Prospect for wind turbines, or in the state of Connecticut, he said. The proposed regulations are not cast in stone, and he and his client are seeking input from the commission, public and staff on the proposal.

According to state statutes, the Connecticut Siting Council has sole jurisdiction over this issue, Hess said. He said he concedes that, but however, the siting council also shall consider municipal zoning regulations.

“Having regulations is much better than no regulations,” Hess said.

The commission took no action on the proposal, but continued the hearing to 7:10 p.m. Feb. 2. Some residents provided input, imploring the commission to set regulations to protect residents’ quality of life, and submitting their own research of minimum setbacks to wind turbines in towns outside of Connecticut.

Last month, Satkunas filed a proposed amendment to create a new section in the Prospect Zoning Regulations for wind power.

Hess said the purpose of the proposed regulations is to regulate the safe and effective use of wind power, subject to conditions to protect public welfare and adjoining property owners. The regulations include setbacks, design standards, lighting, safety and aesthetics and maintenance.

The proposed regulations also try to distinguish between a utility-scale wind facility and an on-site wind facility, Hess said.
According to the proposal, an on-site wind facility will consume more than 75 percent of the electricity generated by the facility, and it would require site plan approval.

A utility-scale wind facility would be a more involved process requiring a special permit, Hess said. That’s a commercial wind facility with the primary use of electrical generation to be sold to wholesale electricity markets or other commercial users of energy.

He said the most important part of the regulations is the proposed setbacks. For utility scale, the height of the wind facility would be no more than 350 feet in height, and based on a formula, it would determine the setback from the property line. For on-site, it would be no more than 100 feet in height, and no closer than 100 feet to a property line.

Satkunas’ submission followed a petition filed at the siting council by BNE Energy Inc. of West Hartford to build two turbines, each measuring 462 feet from the base to the tip of the blade, at 178 New Haven Road. BNE also has filed petitions to erect six turbines in Colebrook — three on Flagg Hill Road and three on Rock Hall Road.

Paul J. Corey, of West Hartford, the company chairman, submitted information to consider as an alternative to the proposed regulations. He said overall the regulations proposed by Satkunas are a good start, but the only issue the company has is with the proposed setbacks.