June 13, 2013
Headwinds for turbine project
Public hearings on environmental impacts conclude Wednesday
Vocal opponents continued to outnumber supporters of a proposed wind turbine project during two public hearings held Wednesday.
The hearings on the company’s draft environmental impact statement were the last of the hearings on the 44-turbine project proposed by the United Kingdom-based company. An afternoon hearing at the County Office Building had a sparse turnout, with only a few speakers, and the evening hearing at Hartnett Elementary School in Truxton was well attended but only about 12 people spoke, including two who were in favor of the project.
The afternoon hearing included a single supporter of the project.
Supporters at the Truxton meeting included Peter Young, Terry Beard and William MacLean.
MacLean and Beard cited the financial incentives of leasing property with TCI, saying they hope it will help with paying taxes on their farms in Cortlandville and Truxton, respectively. Young said he has worked on wind projects in the Midwest and elsewhere and that he thinks there are benefits to wind energy that are being overlooked amid what he called “misleading information” and negativity surrounding the project.
Beard said he might have a substation and one turbine on his property and he said it is a matter of “economic survivability,” alleviating the property tax burdens on his land. MacLean cited similar concerns on his 650 acres he owns in Cortlandville and Solon where he has a dairy farm.
The concerns about things like shadow flicker and noise from the turbines do not bother MacLean, who said that running equipment or listening to the wind outside is noisy, anyway. MacLean also said he doubts statistics that question the viability of the project.
“It’s always windy on the hill, I can’t believe there isn’t enough power,” said MacLean after the afternoon hearing.
Solon resident Alison King provided wind data charts at all three hearings that show the areas slated for turbines are not considered windy enough by national standards for wind projects.
Other residents, like real estate agent Jamie Yaman — who stressed he was only speaking for himself at the hearing — said property values would plummet as a direct result of the project.
Yaman said at the afternoon hearing that he “couldn’t disagree more” with TCI’s assertion that property values would not be affected.
Noise disturbances and unpleasant views of industrial-size wind turbines would contribute to lower property values, said Yaman, and lower assessments on properties would mean less tax revenue coming to the municipalities and the county, offsetting any financial gain from a negotiated payment in lieu of taxes agreement with TCI.
Eric Johnson, a past county public health director, pointed to what he called “untrue statements” in the DEIS, saying the document inaccurately represents what noise decibel levels would be at his house and states that he is a participating property owner in some places, even though he is not.
Solon resident Paul Heider, at the evening hearing, also criticized TCI for what he said is the company’s failure to abide by the document’s own stated setback requirement of 738 feet from non-participating property owners.
Heider listed three cases of turbines that do not meet the minimum setback distance for neighboring residences and five cases where the setbacks fall short of the 738 feet prescribed from state forest land.
Heider asked TCI to provide the name of the state Department of Environmental Conservation official that TCI has spoken to regarding permission to encroach on the state property.
Truxton resident Joe Coleman expressed concern over the noise levels of living near a wind turbine, which he likened to an overhead jet. Cortlandville resident Mike Barylski faulted TCI’s proposed PILOT agreement of $7 million over the 20-year life of the project as negligible, saying that such a low payment is an insult to the county. The payment would equal about $355,000 yearly, to be split between the communities.
Truxton resident Allen Mooney, a war veteran, said the American freedoms he fought valiantly for are being threatened by the proposed project. Mooney and his wife, Patty, would see three turbines from their property on West Chenango Road and they worry about shadow flicker.
“It’s a ludicrous solution to close the blinds, we like to let the sun in,” Mooney said, referring to TCI’s solution to install blinds to protect against the flickering effect.
Mooney expressed the sentiment of many residents, saying he loves the rural setting of his home, remarking that he can canoe the Tioughnioga River to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed if he wants. He is concerned about the effects of water runoff from the construction of the turbines and a rising water table.
Although the public hearings on the proposed Crown City Wind Farm have now ended, comments can be submitted through July 26.
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