Cherry Valley to use time to get wind ordinance on the books
By JIM AUSTIN
CHERRY VALLEY – Meeting in special session Tuesday night, the Cherry Valley town board reversed the decision it made late last month and adopted moratorium on major development, albeit a shorter one.
Town supervisor Tom Garretson first introduced a motion to amend the original moratorium proposal from 12 months to 90 days, which passed unanimously.
The supervisor then introduced a second motion – this time to adopt the amended local law and it, too, passed unanimously.
“The town has 90 days. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s 90 days more than we had before,” Garretson said.
Garretson said the town will use the three months to finish its local wind ordinance and get it adopted.
“We will need those 90 days so this will help,” he said.
Earlier in the meeting, the aboard approved hiring LaBella Associates, a Rochester engineering firm, which will review the current draft of the wind ordinance.
Garretson said the town board’s original intention when it set Tuesday’s special meeting was to introduce the wind turbine law, but after some thought, he decided it would be better to review it first and then introduce it.
“It will be time well spent to let a firm like this review it first,” he said. “If the turbine law is developed with the protection of the town in mind, I think we’ll be alright.”
Following the meeting, David Little, the project manager for Reunion Power’s East Hill Wind Farm, said he believed the town board made a good decision and that it was clear they would be using the three months to work on the wind ordinance.
Little also said he applauded the hiring of a qualified engineering firm. Reunion Power will have to pay any costs the town incurs during the review of its application and Little said that although they have not yet submitted an application, they would be willing to assist the town with a reasonable amount of money to help pay for LaBella’s services.
Asked if some of the setback distances from homes and property lines being discussed for the local law would have serious implications for the project, Little commented that he had not yet seen the most recent draft of the law, but was looking forward to it.
When they have a copy, he said, they will be able to evaluate it and better understand any impact it may have on the project.
Barbara Perry, who has leased land to Reunion Power, said she thinks the moratorium was a wonderful thing.
“It’s time to get a wind ordinance in place that is appropriate for the well-being of the community,” she said. “You can’t rush into these things. They must be done appropriately. The project has to be given a chance to stand on its own merit. If it can’t, it’s not appropriate and it shouldn’t happen.”
Perry added that there has to be a transition in this country from a dependence on fossil fuels to renewable forms of energy. It is not, she said, about the money, but about doing the right thing for the environment. “If I can be a part of that, then I am proud,” she said.
“I respect supervisor Garretson for making the best of a bad situation, but what a 90-day moratorium has done is put the cart before the horse. The idea behind Mr. Garretson’s original proposal of an 18-month moratorium was to first draft a comprehensive plan, which, among other things, would have first defined the suitability of a wind farm in Cherry Valley. Furthermore, if a comprehensive plan were to have allowed wind turbines, it, and not a developer, would have determined areas suitable for such installations,” said Andy Minnig, a spokesman for the Advocates of Cherry Valley, which opposes the wind farm.
Minnig said the 90-day moratorium was an “inadequate response” to Reunion Power’s plan to put a wind farm on East Hill in the first place.
” The developer has determined the suitability of East Hill, not the town. And while the fate of East Hill is being determined, not one of its residents has been invited to the table,” he said. “The planning board’s recent draft proposal clearly shook the developer. Reunion’s new-found amiability suggests to me that 90 days means time to twist the right arms and get precisely the sort of ordinance it wants.”
During the brief meeting, the town board also approved the minutes of its special meeting July 31, which will now reflect that no vote was taken on the moratorium. “We want to make sure it is worded properly at the end of the meeting,” Garretson said.
The record will indicate that Garretson made a motion to adopt the local law, but because it was not seconded, no vote was taken. The record will not reflect the fact that town councilmen Fabian Bressett and Jim Johnson did cast no votes that evening.
The board approved the revision to the minutes.
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