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October 27, 2016
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Denning residents irked by proposed turbine; citizens want their voices heard

There is controversy over a proposed wind turbine in the Town of Denning.

TOWN OF DENNING, NY — The Town of Denning Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is considering an application for a variance that would allow a wind turbine to be built on Eve Arden Road. According to minutes of the ZBA meeting on October 30, the structure would stand a total of 176 feet.

Also according to the minutes, various concerns were raised about the matter. The question of whether birds would be harmed by the windmill was responded to by a contractor for the project, a Mr. Chase, who offered a statement from the National Audubon Society, which said residents would see no impact on the local bird population.

The minutes further say, “Questions were raised about physical dangers (ice fling, sound, catastrophic failure, fire and rescue). The site was chosen to make sure that these possible problems would not be a danger to the homeowner. The site chosen is a far distance from neighboring properties as to remove effect of failure.”

The minutes indicate that the biggest concern was the impact the windmill would have on the viewshed, especially the “magnificent view of the Shawangunk Mountain range,” which reportedly “would not be blocked for anyone.”

The board members determined that they would like to study the issue further before deciding on the variance, and scheduled another meeting for November 13.

In deliberating the matter, board members will likely be considering relevant sections of the town code, which says that a variance may only be granted if three conditions are met: the land in question cannot yield a reasonable return if used only for a purpose allowed in the district in which it is located; the circumstances applying to the property are unique and do not generally apply to other properties in the district; the use to be authorized by the variance will not alter the essential character of the surrounding area.

Some residents of the town feel that even though town officials followed the legal procedures for notifying residents about the public hearing, and the workshop on the matter that preceded the hearing, they could have taken additional steps to notify more residents about the project before it reached this point.

On another matter, several residents sent letters-to-the-editor to The River Reporter because the local newspaper, Ye Olde Tri-Valley Townsman, has declined to publish letters to the editor about the matter, either pro or con.

Resident Tiffany Gillman wrote that she objected to the turbine because the constant noise of the turning blades would mar her son’s enjoyment of the rural countryside and wildlife. She wrote, “I know some people will guffaw when reading this and say, ‘there goes another one of those pesky environmentalists,’ but I would never call myself that. I don't always take the extra steps to the recycling can, I drive an SUV when I know there are more efficient cars available, I gave up vegetarianism when I realized how good bacon tasted.” But, she says she and some of her neighbors are opposed in part because they don't know enough about the impact on the environment and the people.

But for the paper, the decision not to publish letters was in part one based on economics. In response to a complaint from resident Sharon Selwyn about the paper’s decision, the editor, Linda Comando, wrote, “to ask us to print all of the letters that we received would take almost two pages and quite frankly it is cost prohibitive.”

As for the decision to print no letters at all, she wrote, “It is my understanding that the Town of Denning Zoning Board will be voting on this issue, and that there will be no further public comment. With this being the case, what would all of these letters gain except to cause dissension among neighbors, which I can see by your note, is already happening.”