It now appears the silent majority Reunion Power has been talking about has remained largely silent.
The Cherry Valley town board spent more than three hours Monday night reviewing a three-inch stack of written comment on a proposed wind ordinance to gauge public sentiment.
The ordinance was written by the town planning board with input form its consultants and sets standards for the installation of wind energy facilities in the town.
Reunion Power wants to put 24 wind turbines on East Hill and has said the stringent standards in the ordinance, particularly those pertaining to noise and setbacks from residences and property lines, would effectively kill its project.
Company representatives have been working to bolster support for the project and have encouraged what they deemed a silent majority in the town to demonstrate its disapproval of the ordinance by testifying at the public hearing and writing to the town board.
But at the public hearing and again Monday night, support leaned heavily in favor of adopting the ordinance as it is currently written.
Following the special meeting, town supervisor Tom Garretson said he and councilmen Fabian Bressett and Jim Johnson reviewed 250 letters that evening.
The trio kept a running tally of those letters for and against the local ordinance, but Garretson declined to discuss the actual count.
“I don’t want to give you any numbers, but we received a lot of letters in favor of the ordinance,” he said.
The supervisor said many of the comments were along the same lines as those the board listened to last month at the public hearing. They primarily focused on the setbacks and noise standards.
One thing Garretson said he did notice was that some people were concerned the ordinance would prevent any wind turbines in Cherry Valley.
“The people who wanted revisions [to the ordinance] feel that by adopting the current ordinance it would not allow any wind turbines in Cherry Valley, but I don’t agree with that,” he said.
The supervisor did not elaborate, but earlier this month mentioned the possibility of the town developing its own wind energy facility
“We could create a project that would generate the amount of energy that this town uses, while generating the amount of revenue that this town needs. It would be our project, with laws developed by our town, with our town’s vision in mind,” he wrote.
The 90-day moratorium enacted in August is set to expire in mid-November and Garretson said extending it remains an option if a decision on the wind ordinance is not made by that time.
“It’s too soon to know. It hinges on whether the ordinance needs revision,” he said.
The board did toss out one petition Monday night that was received along with the individual letters. Board members had agreed prior to the public hearing that they would not accept petitions or form letters. They reiterated that provision when they decided following the hearing to extend the comment period to Oct. 10.
“We have to set it aside. We said no petitions,” Garretson said.
Garretson said the earliest the board would make a decision is during its next regular meeting on Nov 9.
By Jim Austin, Editor
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