Giant windmills will soon go up along the Lake Erie shoreline. While Lackawanna is welcoming the wind turbines…plans for a similar project are dividing one small community in Wyoming County.
Sheldon Town Supervisor John Knab says the wind seems to blow most of the time in his town. That’s why a Chicago company wants to build 86 windmills here. But unlike nearby Weathersfield..where the blades of 10 turbines cut through the air…the proposed project in Sheldon is dividing the town in two. John Knab, Town Supervisor: “Seems the majority of the people seem to be for the wind turbines.” Glen Cramer, Town Councilman: “The vast majority of the residents do not support the turbines.”
Each windmill would stand nearly 400 feet tall…a few feet higher than Buffalo City Hall. Some 40 property owners stand to gain nearly five thousand dollars a year in land lease payments for each turbine. Some of those landowners are related to town board members. Knab: “It’s awful tough in a small community to get people on the board that’s not related to somebody.”
Opponents like Susan Grew don’t want the landscape marred by windmills. “I’ve lived out here most of my life and it’s just too pretty.” She’s already had enough with the noise of big trucks going by her home. “Now we’re going to have wind turbines and that’s really exciting because it’ll be 24/7 now.”
Jason Kehl: “I think the road is going to be a lot noisier than the windmills.” Jason Kehl might have two windmills on his farm. He believes the economic benefits outweigh any esthetic concerns. “We have a resource here and I think we can harness some of it and it’ll be good for everybody.”
Supporters say Sheldon property owners, Wyoming County, the Pioneer and Attica school districts and local fire departments stand to save nearly 775 thousand dollars a year in taxes. But town board member Glen Cramer believes the windmills will do more harm then good…environmentally and economically. “Once it drives down the property values, the tax revenue that the town gets is going to shrink.”
A divisive issue…for a small community. Cramer: “For a few to gain the vast majority are going to lose.” Knab: “It’s got to be favorable for the town. I’m sure it’s not going to happen if it’s not financially favorable.”
The town board is expected to discuss the project at its meeting tomorrow. A final vote won’t likely happen until late this year or early next year. If it’s approved, the windmills could be up and running by Thanksgiving of next year.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding