A Reminder About Windmills

    About a year ago, an outcry greeted a proposal to erect a wind turbine on a tree farm off Long Lane in East Hampton. Now, a second property owner has plans to build one nearby, but this time it is unlikely to spark the same degree of opposition.
    The Iacono farm, famous for its chickens, eggs, holiday geese, and homemade cookies, has alerted East Hampton Town that it will soon put an electricity-generating windmill on its seven acres. We say alerted because the family’s lawyer has told the town that the State Agricultural and Markets Law supersedes the town zoning code and that the Iaconos can do what they like in this regard. Apparently, notifying the town board was a courtesy.
    When the first Long Lane turbine was announced, opponents worried most about how the 120-foot tower on which it rotated would look in the farmland landscape — much of which had been preserved with public dollars in development-rights buys. Others, especially those with houses close by, worried about noise and whether the spinning blades would make an aggravating whir. From what we have observed, these concerns were overstated. The anticipated problems turned out to be relatively innocuous.
     While the Long Lane turbine and the one now planned may be limited in their impact on views and neighbors, other alternative-energy projects might not be. Officials have known for a while now that East Hampton Town’s rules for windmills and the like are deficient, but they have not made a priority of revamping them. In the absence of a thorough, publicly discussed policy, it could prove impossible for property owners to obtain permission for small-scale turbines on residential land, where town rules unarguably apply.
    This newest proposal is a reminder that a comprehensive alternative-energy statute remains to be written.