ARKPORT – The people have spoken – 29 percent of them – and Hornellsville residents seem to be in favor of wind development in the town.
Planning Board member Randy Jackson presented the findings of a wind survey sent out to residents and property owners in the town, painting a picture of a community OK with wind power. He said 1,586 surveys were sent out, with 465 returned, or 29.31-percent participation.
“Anytime you do a survey, if you get 30 percent back, you’re doing pretty good,” Jackson said.
Among the findings of the survey, 87 percent of respondents live in the town, with 95.88 percent owning the property they live on; 95.24 percent knew about wind farm issues in the area, but 77.44 percent have never visited an established wind farm. The favorable outlook brought out 73.38 percent feeling a wind farm would have a positive impact overall on the town and 73.19 percent were in favor of wind farm development in the town, while 53.96 percent felt it would have a negative impact on property values.
Planning Board Chairman Bob Panter said all the surveys would be kept by the Planning Board.
“So, if anybody wants to challenge the findings, they can go through them and tally them up themselves,” he said.
Jackson said it was important the town continue to work on its law, as that was the only way Hornellsville could protect itself.
“Lowe’s and wind farms have something in common – they’re both coming,” he said. “With windmills, the Planning Board and town board have to have control.”
Jackson said the town would likely have to spend some money to hire an attorney with wind energy expertise to help with the wind law.
“One way or another you’re going to spend the money,” he said. “You’re either going to spend it defending this or creating it.”
That suggestion was supported by town Attorney Pat McAllister, who said he didn’t feel he had the expertise to do it. What makes it tricky in developing a law in Hornellsville, he said, was the need for it to fit with the town’s zoning laws. McAllister noted a Type I State Environmental Quality Review would be needed for wind farm development, and that’s an involved process.
“Attorneys get experts to do just the SEQR part for them,” he said.
Panter stressed the survey wasn’t an indication the Planning Board was ready to allow windmills to start popping up on the town’s hillsides.
“We haven’t finished our work on this,” he said.
In other business, Theresa Melvin, who works in the town assessor’s office, said not all taxpayers who are eligible for senior or agriculture tax exemptions have filed them with the office yet. She said the exemptions are due by March 1. The assessor’s office is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, with the exception of Wednesdays when the office is open until 6 p.m.
By Rob Montana
The Evening Tribune
14 February 2007