Arkwright property owners will have yet another chance to comment on the proposed local law governing the development of industrial wind turbines in the township at a public hearing scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday in the town hall.
Opponents and proponents of wind turbines have expressed their opinions at various town board meetings and at public forums called to provide information regarding their operation.
“You have been a wonderful audience and we appreciate the calm manner in which the points of view were presented. We will remember them,” said Fred Norton, Arkwright town supervisor.
About 100 people turned out for the review process to hear the proposed law explained and defined.
Norton and attorney Daniel Spitzer, who has been hired by the Town Board to develop the draft local law, took time to answer the questions raised by the audience.
As in the past, the major concerns focused on setback boundaries, health issues and definitions.
Sue Miller, Planning Board chairman, said it is important the wind turbine law be consistent with Arkwright’s zoning laws. She also questioned the costs associated with decommissioning a wind tower and the amount set for permit fees.
Spitzer said the developer would be responsible for providing a bond covering the decommission process and that the town can recover the application costs.
“The town’s financial benefit with these wind towers is not gained through legal fees, but through revenues the structures generate,” the attorney said.
Dorothy Holland said the 6 a.m. start for construction of the wind turbines is too early.
“Given the rural nature of our township, the use of heavy construction at this early time and the possibility of machinery blocking our roads is unacceptable,” she said.
She suggested the time be changed to 8 a.m. and urged town officials to negotiate for the best deal possible to preserve the town’s heritage view shed.
She was assured the proposed law would provide this through a visual impact study, which the State Environmental Quality Review requires, and the Town Board’s right to say yes or no to a proposed development project.
Bob Holland said the complex nature of wind turbine farms makes it difficult for town board members to deal with decisions associated with them. His suggestion that the board consider hiring specialists in the field to advise the members was agreed to by Norton.
“We can hire independent people who would take care of the engineering and manage the project. The cost of this service would be covered by the developer,” he said.
Vince Martonis reiterated his concerns about noise increasing at night and the impact of shadow flickers on individuals’ health while Marty Cicocki said he felt the Town Board was doing a disservice to the Planning Board and the work its members put into drafting a local law covering wind turbines.
“The community should be given an opportunity to provide more input rather than the hired gun the board brought in to develop the draft law,” he said, adding, “The Town Board should visit the residents to find out what they want.”
Kathy Jackson said she wanted to be protected and the land preserved.
“We need a responsible, respectable law that will empower the people,” she said.
Tim Noonan said the Town Board should, “Do it right and do it smart to get a better deal for everybody involved.”
Doug Fairbanks said it will take more than an attitude to get the development of wind turbines in Arkwright done.
“We have to admit the towers in Arkwright are ethical, right and fit in our town. The bickering that has been going on over the towers is non-productive and just wrong,” he said.
James Potter told the gathering that America needs to find a new, clean way to power our lifestyle and wind energy is the answer.
“Arkwright has the wind to power this project and if the town says no because of some people’s “˜not in my backyard attitude’ we will lose out from the increased revenue and we will lose out as Americans for not helping to clean up our planet for our children and grandchildren.
“Wind energy is the right thing to do. If not here, where? If not now, when? I urge Arkwright residents to stand up and be counted. Let the Town Board know how you feel about this important subject.”
His statement drew a wide range of applause from the audience.
Chautauqua County Legislator Jerry Parks has been present at many of the meetings where the industrial wind generators has been discussed.
When asked what he thought the residents felt about the development in the township, he said, “I think most support it – but they’ve been part of the silent majority.”
Joe Dziduch said he was in favor of the windmills. “We need a careful law to regulate them and I hope we can work together to get it done,” he said.
Supervisor Norton had one last piece of advice before calling the meeting to a close, “Make sure, if you are approached by a developer to sign a lease agreement, have it checked out by an attorney, first.”
By Joan Josephson
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