December 4, 2013
Panel: No turbines on county land
County moves to sever any involvement with 44 turbine project
Cortland County Solid Waste Committee officials Tuesday took a decisive step toward ending the county’s involvement in the proposed Crown City Wind Farm, rejecting an offer to lease county property and ending the environmental review process.
The committee unanimously passed a resolution rejecting the United Kingdom-based TCI Renewables’ offer to lease land on the county landfill site for the construction of three turbines. It also bars TCI from using county land to access other turbines or from situating access roads on county land. The full Legislature will vote on the measure Dec. 19.
TCI has proposed building 44 turbines on sites in Solon, Cortlandville, Truxton and Homer by 2015. But the firm in a letter dated Nov. 28 informed the county of its decision to withdraw the project from the State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQR, process and instead seek state intervention to allow the project to advance through so-called Article 10 proceedings.
County officials Tuesday took a firm stance against allowing TCI to build turbines on county land or access county land for the project. The resolution also calls for notifying the state Public Service Commission of the county’s decision to remove itself from the project.
TCI Operations Director Brett O’Connor did not return phone calls for comment.
Legislator Kathie Arnold (D-Cuyler, Solon and Truxton) said at the time of the vote that since the state environmental review process ends as a result of the so-called Article 10 proceedings chosen by TCI, there is no way to ensure the project will not be detrimental to the land near the landfill. She also does not want the project to interfere with any future plans for the landfill, which it could potentially do for a span of 45 years since the life of the project is 25 years with two possible 10-year extensions.
Arnold objected to TCI’s lease terms that called for full cooperation from the county and unfettered access to the leased county land at any time.
“We are granting up to 45 years access to the landfill and we could not say where the turbines could be and also we can’t build anything there unless we get their approval,” Arnold said of her objections to the lease.
Since Article 10 proceedings do not allow eminent domain to be used, attorney Pat Snyder said the county could simply remove itself from the project and not be forced to participate. Snyder, who has been the attorney for the county in the SEQR process, said it would not create any liability for the county to forbid turbines to be built on the county land.
Solon residents Paul Heider and Allison King also urged the committee to take a stance against allowing TCI to build turbines on the county land.
Heider said it is very important that the state Public Service Commission has a definitive answer from the county that it is not involved in the project so the county is not in limbo as Article 10 proceedings go forward. Without this message, said Heider, TCI could possibly lead the state to believe the county could be involved at some point.
“It’s important to let New York state know Cortland County will not be involved in the project,” Heider said.
King pointed out that since some turbines need the participation of county land to access them, the plans will have to be redrawn to make other accommodations.
Legislator Dave Fuller (R-Cincinnatus, Taylor, Freetown and Willet) questioned whether the county wants to send a message to the state that the county does not want wind turbines, but Arnold said the message is simply against situating turbines on the county landfill land, not opposed to any future wind turbines.
“It just says the landfill is off limits,” Arnold said.
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