Judd Hirsch's wind plans draw protest in Denning
By Joe Moskowitz
A wind turbine, proposed to be built in one of the least populated regions in the Catskills, is making news in the big city. That’s because the man who wants to build it is a celebrity.
Actor Judd Hirsch, perhaps best known for his role on the TV series “Taxi”, wants to construct a turbine to generate electricity on top of the 96-acre parcel of land he owns in Claryville in the Town of Denning. That’s near the Frost valley YMCA Camp in Ulster County.
Hirsch, who owns a second home in Denning, a town with a full-time population of about 550, moved into the area about 40 years ago. He said he came here for the same reason many other second homeowners did, for the peace and quiet.
But some people say his wind generator would change all of that. John Byron Kuhner claims to be an advocate of generating power from wind, but not there. He says the generator, with blades, which would reach 177 feet above the terrain, would harm the viewscape. He also said there would be environmental issues, including harming wildlife, creating noise, and changing the building codes, which could result in other changes, including commercial development.
The entire Town of Denning is in the “forever wild” Catskill Park.
Kuhner took a petition to the Denning Town Board, claiming a wind turbine would violate the town’s zoning laws.
But Denning Supervisor Bill Bruning told the News that the town has no laws governing wind generators. The Ulster County Planning Board will review Hirsch’s application during its December 4 meeting. It will make a non-binding recommendation to the Denning Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and the ZBA will decide
A hot topic
Bruning said he doesn’t know why the issue has gotten so much publicity, including from ABC News and The New York Times but concedes Hirsch’s celebrity status probably has something to do with it.
Bruning told the News that the turbine wouldn’t be visible from Frost Valley or county Road 47. He said Hirsch made a special effort so that it wouldn’t be visible. He said the town has lunched a trial balloon to the height of the turbine blades and it can’t be seen from off Hirsch’s property. He said it is ironic that mot of the people who are opposed to the turbine are in favor of clean energy and Hirsch plans to use the electricity generated by the turbine to power his geothermal heating system.
Bruning said at this point he has no idea how this will play out. He said both sides have been civil. Apparently he hasn’t read The New York Times article in which Hirsch accused opponents of the turbine of jealousy and much worse.