After several months of behind-the-scenes study and discussion, the issue of wind-turbine development in several Delaware County towns may again be generating public debate.
Deadlines on moratoriums that set aside time for planning officials to learn about the complex issue are near or recently passed. New legislation will be necessary in the weeks ahead in Andes, Bovina, Meredith, Roxbury and Stamford to allow or restrict wind-turbine construction.
Andes officials expect the town planning board to make its recommendations Wednesday, a day before the moratorium expires and the town board meets.
The town board will take up the issue Thursday, according to Supervisor Martin Donnelly.
The wind-turbine issue has been discussed more heatedly recently in Andes because of the appointment of Frank Winkler to the planning board.
Winkler, of Andes, is a member of the board of directors of the Delaware County Electric Cooperative, which is among those companies hoping to develop wind power in some areas through a separate corporation, Delaware Wind Energy.
Concerned Citizens of Andes called the appointment a conflict of interest and ran ads in two local newspapers calling upon Winkler to resign. In those ads, Donnelly said Winkler agreed to excuse himself from discussion on the wind turbine issue. Attempts to contact Winkler were unsuccessful last week.
An opposition group, the Alliance of Andes, is urging town officials to enact a local law that will stop wind-power development.
Town officials extended a six-month moratorium for another six months at the board’s Oct. 12 meeting. The vote was unanimous, according to Town Clerk Jeannette Moser-Orr.
While there are no specific proposals for wind-farm development in the town, Chicago-based Invenergy has proposed a line of turbines along a ridge line between the town and its neighbor to the northeast, the town of Stamford.
The town board’s decision to extend the moratorium may have been influenced by the results of a survey conducted in September by the Alliance for Bovina, a group opposed to large industrial-scale wind turbines, but mostly ambivalent towards those 120 feet in height or less.
The group’s two-question survey, tallied in October, showed residents were overwhelmingly against the large turbines, but evenly split on the smaller ones. Of 866 persons polled, 540 _ or 60 percent _ responded; still, according to the Alliance for Bovina website, Town Supervisor Tina Mole said she plans a separate survey of town opinion.
Attempts to contact Mole last week were unsuccessful.
Town officials enacted a year-long moratorium on wind-turbine development in April, giving them six months longer to study the issue than their neighbors.
Supervisor Frank Bachler said the town’s planning board has been considering proposals from Airtricity, headquartered in Ireland but with offices in Clifton Park, and from the Delaware County Electric Co-op’s Delaware Wind Energy.
While the planning board _ which met last week _ seems closer to making its recommendations, “no one seems to know what (the developers are) going to do just yet,” Bachler said.
The supervisor said he knows of at least “two or three landowners” who have agreed to work with developers. His own farm property is being considered as a site as well, he said, although he said he and his wife have not yet reached a decision.
Although he said he favors the project, Bachler said there is a lot of “vocal opposition” and the Alliance for Meredith has made its views well-known.
Plans for 34 wind turbines in Roxbury and Stamford announced in September have not been submitted to the Roxbury Planning Board, Supervisor Thomas Hynes said.
Roxbury officials set guidelines for wind-turbine development several years ago when the board also was debating cell-tower construction. While there was opposition at the time, there is no organized alliance protesting the Invenergy wind proposal, according to Hynes.
Officials said Invenergy has delayed approaching the Roxbury planning board until it gets a response from Stamford, where a moratorium is in effect. The Stamford freeze on development expires in February.
“We’re still busy preparing for the project,” said Invenergy’s Director of Business Development David Groberg.
“Although we’re uncertain of what the standards and requirements (in Stamford) might be, we’re trying to get out in the community,” he said. “A lot of people want to know about the project.”
By Dana Cudmore