After what’s likely one more revision, the solar and wind energy law will be put to a vote in Lansing.
This law will regulate the development of wind farms and solar panels, with the goals of minimizing impacts on neighboring properties, protecting public health, preserving natural areas and maintaining the aesthetics of the town.
The “Solar and Wind Energy Systems and Facilities Law,” now on its fifth and final revision, was drafted by Lansing’s Planning Board and is a part of the Town of Lansing Comprehensive Plan. The Town of Lansing has no law that addresses the development of renewable energy, and this law unpacks the pitfalls of creating avenues for sustainable energy.
Alternate Planning Board Member Dean Shea, who was instrumental in drafting the law, said the planning board team sought to give Lansing residents the option to branch out into renewable energy, without the dangers of abandonment or unsafe conditions.
“That’s what we’ve been trying to do: grab the conditions that we think are the best, and I think through all of this we want to make sure people have an avenue to put in solar and put in wind,” he said. “That’s paramount, and on the back end, we want to make sure people aren’t stuck with an infrastructure that’s just left.”
Abandonment deals with structures that are already built or are in the process of being built that will no longer be put to use. In the case of abandonment, steel structures are left in the ground, making the surrounding land unusable for primarily farming. Health and safety issues may arise as well, with a rusting structure left in a field.
“We don’t want abandoned infrastructures, towers or otherwise. We see that as an end result if you just allow the development but don’t have a law to address what happens with abandonment,” Shea said. “Then you can’t go in and farm and you can’t do much else because you have these posts sticking up.”
The law still needs a few final tweaks and revisions — mainly around the specifics in the language — before it’s put to a vote. If passed, Lansing residents will be able to experiment with solar and wind energy — something that’s never been formally regulated in the town’s history.
“We see these technologies as important and becoming more prevalent and people wanting to put them in,” Shea said. “We want to quantify what can be done and what can’t be done, to protect the residents and the neighbors.”