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September 14, 2011

RE: S-2887, Exempts certain wind turbines from local review

Dear Mayor:

The League opposes S-2887, 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.   This bill is scheduled for consideration by the Senate Environment Committee on Monday, September 19. 

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 also 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 currently required of all zoning variances. 

To meet this special exemption, projects would need to meet the follow standards:

  1. No more than 1 turbine for every 33 contiguous acres of farmland;
  2. 750 foot setback requirement from any residence or property line;
  3. Must not exceed 55 decibels noise level at the property line; and
  4. 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 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; and
  • Exempting such projects from notice and hearing requirements excludes public notice and participation in the process.

The Assembly companion was approved by the Assembly Telecommunications Committee in May, but was then second-referenced to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee, where is awaits consideration. 

We recommend contacting the members of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee (contact information is below) as well as your State Senator and ask them to oppose S-2887.  

Senate Environment and Energy Committee:

Hon. Bob Smith, Chair
Senator, District 14
216 Stelton Rd., Ste E-5
Piscataway NJ 08854
Tel: 732-752-0770
Fax: 732-752-1590
SenSmith@njleg.org

Hon. Christopher “Kip” Bateman
Senator, District 16
36 East Main St
Somerville NJ 08876
Tel: 908-526-3600
Fax: 908-707-4578
SenBateman@njleg.org
Hon. Robert M Gordon, Vice-Chair
Senator, District 38
Rayburne-Plaza Bldg
14-25 Plaza Rd
Fair Lawn NJ 07410
Tel: 201-703-9779
Fax: 201-703-8127
SenGordon@njleg.org

Hon. Jennifer Beck
Senator, District 12
32 Monmouth St., 3rd Flo
Red Bank NJ 07701
Tel: 732-933-1591
Fax: 732-933-1598
SenBeck@njleg.org
Hon. Linda Greenstein
Senator, District 14
7 Centre Dr., Ste 2
Monroe NJ 08831-1565
Tel: 609-395-9911
Fax: 609-395-9032
SenGreenstein@njleg.org
 

For more on this bill, please see our May 31 Dear Mayor letter.   Questions can be directed to Mike Cerra at mcerra@njslom.com or at 609-695-3481 x120.

Very truly yours,

 

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

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