he Manheim Town Council Tuesday night held a public hearing to gather input on its proposed local law to regulate the location and construction of wind turbines. After listening to residents and nonresidents alike for about an hour, the council decided more tweaking was necessary before the law, which also applies to small wind energy systems and regulates the location of wind measurement towers, is adopted.
“I was glad to see so many people are interested in the matter,” Manheim Town Supervisor Tim Parisi said. “The purpose of the law is to protect the interests of the residents and the town as a whole, as well as the interests of the developer. It is a very complicated document, but other towns have gone before us, so we were able to reap the benefits of what they were able to accomplish when we were developing our local law.”
Parisi informed the overflow crowd that packed the town office building that some level of interest has been shown in developing wind turbines along Burrell Road in the town, but the developer, New England-based Tamarack Energy, is yet to submit applications for the necessary permits.
“When that time comes we want to be able to make an informed decision,” the town supervisor said. “We also want to protect the interests of the town and limit the impact that the windmills will have on our residents. At the same time, we have to protect the developer’s rights.”
A majority of the crowd was there to just listen, while others were there to share their thoughts and ask questions.
Hank Crofoot of nearby Fairfield asked the town council not to rush to judgment and to contemplate all of the comments they receive.
“Before you enact this law or decide to move forward with development I ask that you keep in mind all that you hear from the residents and other parties,” he said. “I also ask that you investigate and answer all of the questions that have come up, and will come up in the future.”
District 10 County Legislator Raymond Smith said he has been a proponent of windmills since day one. “I have been involved with windmills for two years or more and I can not stress enough that they will be an economic boon for this area. We live in an economically depressed area, which is why I believe we should do what ever we can to change that. If windmills will bring money into the area than I believe we should be all for it.”
Smith added that the legislature is currently in negotiations with another developer for another wind energy project in another part of the county, and that progress has been made. “We have seen some movement in the negotiations, which has not been the case in some time, but there is still a lot more to do in that regard,” he said. “On behalf of the legislature, I know we will continue to negotiate until an agreement on a payment in lieu of taxes is reached. We realize that this new money could help us construct the jail which we are being mandated to build.”
Manheim resident Pete Koziol said he hopes the town receives all that it has coming to it, if the development were to occur.
“I work at a power plant and I can say that windmills produce energy at a relatively low cost, which the company sells at a higher price to make one heck of a profit. I hope the town gets its fair chunk of the change, because if not what good is it to have the windmills in our town,” he said.
Parisi agreed and assured Koziol and the others in attendance at the hearing that the council would only move forward with the development of wind turbines if it was beneficial to the town. “We do not want to bring the windmills in if they are not going to have a significant economic impact on the town,” he said. “We are hoping that this money stabilizes the tax levy, I won’t say that the new money will result in lower taxes, but I as the budget officer for the town I can say that the money will go a long way in keeping taxes level. We are not going to have 400 to 500 foot structures in our town unless there is a benefit to the townspeople. That is part of our duty to protect the interests of the residents.”
“It seems as though everyone is always against something new,” Manheim resident Ralph Sterusky said. “It seems like people are always against anything that will make the area better. Taxes keep going up and up and our bills are too high. This is a dead area. We need something new.”
John Hutton asked everyone to keep in mind what the development of wind towers will mean to his fellow farmers in the town.
“I do not stand to have any windmills on my property, but predominantly the people that own the most land are farmers. I am not going benefit from this development, but other farmers will and our goal should be doing what we can to keep our farms in business. We have to protect the farms because there is not much anyone else can do to help them out. As a former Farm Bureau president I remember approaching the legislature and hearing from them that they was nothing more that they could do for farmers. If that is the case then we have do something here in town.”
“We need to do what we can to decrease our dependence on foreign oil,” resident Mark Christensen said. “If a clean, environment-friendly form of energy comes along we should jump at the chance to be a part of it because everyone needs to plug stuff in. The need for electricity is only going to grow because soon we are going to be plugging our tractors and cars in because they will be hybrid vehicles. This is the future.”
Parisi thanked everyone in attendance at the meeting for remaining civil during the discussion. “This is a heated issue and everyone remained calm and let others have an opportunity to talk uninterrupted. I think that speaks to the quality of people that live in the town,” he said.
Dolgeville Mayor Bruce Lyon offered the use of the Dolgeville Volunteer Fire Department and Superintendent of Schools Ted Kawryga offered the use of Dolgeville Central School as locations for the second public hearing, which the town supervisor should be held within a few weeks.
While a decision was not reached on whether or not to enact the law, the town council after exiting an executive session passed a resolution that said the proposed local law will not have a negative impact on the environment. The resolution is part of the state’s assessment process.
By Rob Juteau, Evening Times Staff Writer
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