Winds of Change: Court Reverses on Special Use Permit for Wind Turbines

The construction of wind turbines is often a controversial topic, pitting those seeking cleaner sources of energy against property owners who consider the structures an eyesore. Today’s case is just such a situation, as appellant is challenging a decision by the Town of Richmond Planning Board approving of a special use permit for wind turbines. The Board’s decision, which had been reversed by the lower court, was based on eight conditions enumerated in the land use ordinance, each of which required detailed findings to be made. Only two of findings related to those conditions were being contested and were under the Court’s consideration: (1) ensuring that the size, location, and use of the turbines would not interrupt the orderly development of the district and (2) that the use would not impair property values.

Reviewing the Board’s decision, the Court took note of the impact the turbines would have on the aesthetics of the area as seen from the nearby properties, considering the turbines can be up to 500 feet tall based on the orientation of the blades. Yet as the Board pointed out in its defense, the area already has a large number of high-transmission lines which affect the view, and a study the Board commissioned showed there would be no adverse effects on the owner’s ability to use their properties based on the turbines’ construction. Thus the court held that given the substantial evidence justifying the Board’s decision to grant the special use permit, it would not substitute its judgment for that of the Board, thereby reversing the lower court and upholding the Board’s decision.

The case is Frigault v Town of Richmond Planning Board, 2015 WL 2401337 (NYAD 3 Dept. 2015). The full decision can be found here:


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