The town of Lyme’s debate on a wind power moratorium Saturday drew enough residents to be moved, physically.
When the crowd formed a line outside the municipal building’s meeting room, the Town Council relocated the session less than a mile down the road, to the fire hall. There, about 80 people listened to arguments for and against a moratorium on wind farm development. A moratorium would put development on hold while the council adopts zoning for turbines.
“Why put up a six-month moratorium when this has to be done anyway?” asked Timothy W. Claflin.
He said the town has known for more than a year that BP Alternative Energy was interested in proposing a wind farm in Lyme. Instead of having a moratorium, the Town Council and Planning Board should simply create the necessary zoning laws, he argued.
Mr. Claflin said bringing wind power to the community would be less harmful to the area than invasive species and pollution already in Chaumont Bay. He said finding trash, such as medical needles, on the shoreline bothers him more than the possibility of seeing turbines.
“We’ve got something here that’s renewable energy. It’s going to help the environment, and it’s going to help the town of Lyme,” he said.
Others expressed an opposing viewpoint, asking the Town Council to put the brakes on wind power for more than six months.
James A. Oxenford worries turbines will diminish the quality of life in Lyme. He said the town should consider more than a six-month moratorium.
“Northern New York is windy everywhere. Let windmills be built somewhere else,” he said. “Let’s wait for the right company and the right project for us.”
Mr. Oxenford said Lyme should wait while smaller, more efficient turbines are developed.
Craig W. Tucker told the Town Council he supports a moratorium but he also said he is disappointed his representatives have not already created wind farm regulations. The council, he said, should have been drafting zoning for turbines long ago, especially in light of pending wind farms in the neighboring towns of Cape Vincent and Clayton.
“If you didn’t think it was coming to Lyme, you weren’t thinking very well,” he said. “We’ve got to be more proactive people.”
BP’s proposed project crosses town lines between Cape Vincent and Lyme. The 210-megawatt project is expected to put 30 to 60 turbines to Lyme and 60 to 80 in Cape Vincent. The proposed project area encompasses about half of the town of Lyme. The area also encompasses land west of Route 12E, along Chaumont Bay in the town’s seasonal home area.
BP began the State Environmental Quality Review process, with the Cape Vincent Planning Board as lead agency, in January. Town Attorney Mark G. Gebo said the Town Council will have to decide if a moratorium encompasses stalling the SEQR process.
Cape Vincent’s decision to declare itself lead agency for the entire project angered Lyme Councilman Warren A. Johnson, who called for Lyme to be lead agency for the portion of the project within its bounds. But state Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Kimberly A. Chupa said splitting a project into two pieces is contradictory to the SEQR process.
The town of Lyme does have options, she said, including opening a lead-agency dispute with the DEC or entering into an intermunicipal agreement with Cape Vincent to ensure it has equal say in the project. She added that Cape Vincent and Lyme can agree to act together as lead agencies.
“The DEC considers this a very undesirable situation since instead of one municipal board having to make these decisions, two municipal boards would have to agree on the decisions,” she said.
James H. Madden, a project manager for BP, told the Town Council that his company is in support of Lyme enacting the proposed six-month moratorium, but he would like to move forward with the SEQR process with the Cape Vincent Planning Board. Mr. Madden asked the town of Lyme to agree to participate with the SEQR process as a stake holder, or involved agency.
He said it will take years for BP to complete the studies associated with the review. The town can enact a moratorium while the review continues, he said.
Saturday’s meeting was an informational session. The formal public hearing on the moratorium will be at 6 p.m. April 11 at the fire hall, 27994 Old Springs Road. The council will vote on the moratorium after that hearing.
By Kelly Vadney
Publication: Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, NY)
Publication Date: 04/01/2007
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