The attorney for residents opposed to wind turbines in Cherry Valley has sent warning letters to those who might lease their land for the project.
The letters are intended to dissuade prospective lessors from participating in the project, said the writer, lawyer Peter Henner of Clarksville.
In the event the project, under consideration by Reunion Power of Montvale, N.J., goes forward, lawsuits may be filed. Henner said Tuesday that his clients want to be in the position of having warned their neighbors in advance.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]Among the recipients of a letter from Henner is Daniel Wightman of Portlandville. His property east of the village of Cherry Valley is under active consideration by Reunion.
In a letter dated March 23 and provided to The Daily Star, Henner wrote to Wightman:
“I represent Raymond J. and Susan C. Rivard, Andrew and Kathleen Minnig, Linda VanSchaick, Philip and Leila Durkin, Patrick Shearer, Lynae Quimby, Steven and Angela Witham, Mark and Eliza Oursler, Diana Wells, Roy J. Hall and Paul Petersen, who own property that is in close proximity to your property in the town of Cherry Valley.
“It is my understanding that you are considering leasing a portion of your land to be used for the construction of wind turbines. Because these turbines may have an adverse impact upon my clients, I am writing to you to warn you that my clients will hold you responsible for any damage to their property that may result from these wind turbines.”
Henner wrote that the windmills might cause his clients’ property to depreciate, in which case, they “may have little choice but to commence an action to recover for the diminution in value of their property. They may also hold you liable for any adverse impacts, including the diminution of the quality of life that may result from the wind turbines.”
Even if the windmills are built out of sight of his clients’ homes, they may sustain a loss if the turbines can be heard from their residences, Henner said.
Wightman, an owner of Wightman Specialty Woods, said Tuesday afternoon that he plans to go forward with the project if Reunion does, regardless of Henner’s warning.
“We’re not without monetary reasons to go forward, but we’re doing it because we think it’s the right thing to do,” Wightman said.
The nation and world need to develop solar and wind energy, and Cherry Valley apparently is blessed with abundant wind, he said.
“If you’re a serious environmentalist, you have to look beyond your own back yard and see the big picture,” Wightman said.
Henner said he, too, believes wind is a viable way to generate power, but thinks Cherry Valley is not the place to do it.
One of Henner’s clients, Philip Durkin, said he believes that too many windmills in the area “would industrialize the landscape. I think we need to step back and not rush into this.”
Andrew Minnig, president of the Cherry Valley Advocates, said the warning letters are not sanctioned by the group, which has been lobbying against the wind turbines. Letters to prospective lessors are from different combinations of Henner’s clients, depending on who lives near each potential lessor, Minnig said.
Marion Trieste, a public outreach consultant to Reunion Power, said Tuesday she was taken aback by the letters.
“While mercury contamination from coal-fired plants threatens the health of millions of children in this state, here we have someone who would sue people for allowing a 100-percent pollution-free source of energy on their properties,” she said. “With what’s going on in the world these days, I find it incredible.”
Reunion Power erected a meteorological tower on East Hill late last year to test Cherry Valley’s wind. Company officials have said they need to test the wind for at least a year to make sure it is worth harnessing. Preliminary evidence shows Cherry Valley has some of the best wind in the state, project manager David Little said.