The ayes carried the vote Tuesday night, passing the local law governing wind energy development in the Town of Arkwright.
But, it wasn’t unanimous.
Councilmen Jeff Dietrich and Roger Prince voted no while Councilmen Larry Ball and Dan Dietzen were joined by Supervisor Fred Norton in voting yes.
Prior to the vote, Dietrich introduced an amendment that called for extending the setbacks, which was in keeping with a petition presented to the board signed by 84 town residents.
Dietrich said the proposed changes followed guidelines established by wind energy trade associate Windustry and by New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA).
He and Prince cast the only votes for the amendment.
Dietrich also cast the only no vote for a SEQRA negative declaration consulting attorney Daniel Spitzer said needed to be in place in order to establish restrictions for wind energy development.
“The negative declaration starts the process for the developer to follow by setting out a specific set of procedures. There is no overlay or specific area for the location of the wind towers,” he said.
Spitzer also said the town board demonstrated what leadership is all about.
“They did what they think is best for the residents and they are a tribute to how representative government is supposed to work,” he said.
The turnout for this special meeting was significant with more than 60 people filling the town hall at least 20 minutes prior to its 7:30 p.m. start.
Norton’s opening comments made reference to what he said were rumors circulating about his personal involvement with the wind energy issue.
“As is the case with most rumors, they are all false. I have never been employed by Horizon or the company that preceded it. I have no offer or contract with Horizon,” he said.
Norton went on to say Arkwright’s rules for a windmill farm doesn’t say yes or no – it says maybe.
“The local law creates certain hurdles that have to be met,” he said.
The audience was, for the most part, resplendent in green t-shirts, indicating their support for the wind energy development project.
But not all those in attendance were fully supportive.
Joelle Woodward asked the town board to reconsider the setback limits, and Vince Martonis again expressed his concerns about the wind turbine’s impact on the environment and residents’ health.
“The wind turbines will bring about changes we know very little about,” he said.
Kerri Askin said he was not convinced wind power was all it is promoted to be.
Larry Wilcox credited those who opposed the wind towers for the research they did.
“But these people are in the minority and the majority of the Arkwright residents support the wind energy development,” he said.
On the supportive side of the discussion, audience member after audience member stood to express their feelings.
Brian McMahon said now was the time for the town residents to come together and be a good rule community.
David Schultz said everyone has learned because of the town board’s discussions held on wind power.
Jill Casey called the board’s decision on the local law “a most significant action.” “I recommend you follow Windustry standards so we can continue to grow as a community.”
Nancy McVaugh said a lot of effort went into the developing of the local law. “Now is the time to look toward the future,” she said.
Sheila Cannon said a lot of negative propaganda has been circulated about wind power.
“Things are different now and we need to move on; don’t let other places take up what we can do,” she said.
Following the vote, Norton said, “This is our community, we do have our disagreements, but we stand united as Arkwright residents.”
Councilman Larry Bell thanked all those who contacted him, both in opposition to the wind energy development and those who supported it.
“We have a lot of intelligent people who express themselves in a thoughtful way,” he said.
After the meeting, Prince said he thought the approved law was good but it would have been better with Dietrich’s amendment.
“I think it discriminates against small property owners,” he said.
By Joan Josephson
Observer Staff Writer
28 February 2007
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