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June 27, 2012

 

County ready to begin windfarm review

By CATHERINE WILDE
Staff Reporter
cwilde@cortlandstandard.net

The Cortland County Legislature plans to set into motion Thursday the environmental review of a windfarm planned by TCI Renewables.
If the Legislature approves a positive declaration for the project, meaning the project is expected to have an environmental impact, then the United Kingdom-based firm TCI is expected to turn in an outline of its draft Environmental Impact Statement on Friday.
Legislature Chair Mike Park (R-Homer) said the Agriculture Planning and Environment Committee will meet Friday to accept the document, and the county’s lawyer, Pat Snyder and the county’s Rochester-based environmental firm Labella and Associates will review the forms.
The county will put the draft outline up for public review for two weeks. It will likely be available on the county website and in written form at the Planning Department and with the county Legislature.
The public will have the opportunity to weigh in on whether the firm is studying all the possible environmental impacts of the project. The public feedback period is known as a scoping session.
TCI has proposed building 50 wind turbines in Cortlandville, Solon, Homer and Truxton.
Gareth McDonald, TCI Renewables project manager, said Tuesday that he expects the firm will have submitted its draft environmental impact statement by the end of the summer.
At this point the county will know the exact locations of all proposed towers, though the public has criticized TCI for not revealing these locations sooner.
The county, as lead agency of the project, will have 45 days to determine if the draft form is adequate for public review and then the public can review the document for 60 days. Then the document, complete with the public feedback, will be returned to TCI, which will consider the feedback in drafting the final impact statement.
Park said the initial scoping session is an opportunity for the public to only address the concerns about the content of TCI’s environmental impact statement. It is not a chance for the public to comment on the merits of the project, he said.
The second public session held later in the year will give people a chance to comment on the overall project, he said.
McDonald said TCI takes into consideration the scoping comments.
“We prepare the draft EIS in line with those comments. If there are things there that we haven’t included before and are required to be included, we’ll include those,” McDonald said.
McDonald said it can be a very long period of time between completion of the draft and final environmental impact statements.
In a meeting with county officials and town supervisors in May, TCI announced it expected to have a final environmental impact statement presented and a negative declaration — a finding of no adverse impacts to the environment — made by April 2013.
Construction of the turbines is slated for summer 2015.

 

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