May 31, 2011
RE: A-3992/S-2887, Exempts certain wind turbines from local review
On May 19, the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee amended and approved A-3992, which would establish a new category of farmland-based wind energy generation projects on farms that require no regulatory review other than limited minor site plan approval. The League opposes this legislation and at the May 19 hearing was joined in its opposition by environmental advocates, including the Sierra Club and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
Specifically, this legislation would exempt wind turbines from “review, approval or application from any state, county or municipal regulatory body” except for minor site plan review by the municipality on farmland, regardless of whether it is permanently preserved or not. This legislation would mandate than any such qualifying projects shall be a permitted use under local zoning. Further, any such project would be exempt from any public notice or hearing requirement.
Projects would need to meet the follow standards for this special exemption:
- No more than 1 turbine for every 33 contiguous acres of farmland;
- 750 foot setback requirement from any residence or property line;
- Must not exceed 55 decibels noise level at the property line; and
- Meets uniform construction code requirements and all interconnection requirements as set forth by the Board of Public Utilities.
While the League does support the promotion of renewable and green energy sources where appropriate, the League opposes A-3992/S-2887 for the following reasons:
- The legislation is an unnecessary and unwarranted intrusion on local zoning discretion;
- This legislation undermines the legislative and regulatory intent of the farmland preservation program. Public dollars were used to permanently preserve farmland, and this bill would open such land to large scale wind energy generation projects;
- Exempting such projects from notice and hearing requirements excludes public notice and participation in the process.
A-3992 was second-referenced to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee for further consideration. Its Senate companion, S-2887, is assigned to the Senate Environment Committee.
We recommend contacting your legislators and ask them to oppose A-3992/S-2887. Questions can be directed to Mike Cerra at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 609-695-3481 x120.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.