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Wind opinions heard at meeting

About 50 people turned out Tuesday to comment on the draft environmental-impact statement about a 130-megawatt wind-farm project proposed in the towns of Bellmont and Chateaugay.

A majority of the residents who filed into the Chateaugay Town Hall auditorium to make comments were in favor of the application by Noble Environmental Power to build 72 towers in Chateaugay and 14 more in Bellmont on 8,623 acres of land south of U.S. Route 11 and east of State Route 374.

The towns have combined their efforts and are jointly acting as the co-lead agencies in the environmental-review process.

An identical public hearing will be held in the Town of Bellmont on Tuesday, April 17, at 7 p.m. in its Town Hall in Brainardsville.

Wind towers in the Bellmont and Chateaugay projects are proposed at 290 feet tall with a trio of rotating fiberglass blades that are 270 feet across.

The company already has wind-farm projects under construction in Clinton County.

Noble had investigated a similar wind-farm project in the Town of Malone in 2005 but ran up against opposition when a local law was passed, limiting wind-tower heights to 65 feet.

The Noble Chateaugay Windpark Inc. and Noble Bellmont Windpark Inc. will include towers near Sancombe Road, Cassidy Road, Seymore Road, County Line Road, No. 5 Road and Tourville Road.

The company will build a limited number of access roads, help repair local roads and bury the bulk of its electricity-delivery lines underground, according to the draft impact statement.

But those factors still concerned a few of the residents who are being asked to live with the towers in their midst.

Carol Thompson of Cassidy Road urged the gathered Town Council members to carefully review the company’s set-back plans to neighboring property because it is already seeking relief to the existing local law requiring a 1,320-foot distance from the next parcel.

She also had concerns over the noise levels of the turning blades, the expectation that property values would drop once wind towers go up and that many birds will be killed by the turbines.

Mary Rankin of Chateaugay also opposes the projects and said she was “totally stunned” when she saw the Maple Ridge Windfarm project in Lewis County.

The turbines reminded her of a monster from a science-fiction movie.

“The closer I got to them, the more my heart pounded,” she said, adding that the hypnotic sight of the rotating blades was like fingers wiggling in front of her eyes that frightened her as she drove on.

“Yes, I could hear sounds – a throbbing, constant sound,” Rankin said, comparing it to “the thrump, thrump, thrumping” of a chorus of tympani drums. “I don’t think anyone can stand that.

“These companies with their dirty green dollars are raping our gentle, rural settings,” she said, and “destroying the unity of friends and neighbors.”

Dereth Glance, program director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment in Syracuse, spoke in favor of the projects, saying the clean, renewable energy is free of emissions, does not depend on imported fuels to operate and can benefit farmers and other landowners.

She said the environmental-impact statement says that when combined with the Clinton County turbines, the 398 towers would kill between 918 and 1,714 birds a year, which is roughly two to six birds each day.

She said house cats and other predators as well as disease and flying into other utility poles kill far more birds than wind turbines.

“CCE believes that the Chateaugay and Bellmont wind parks positively benefit the environment, local rural economy and public health,” Glance said, and they will “contribute a significant amount of non-polluting, locally generated and sustainable energy to help meet energy demand.”

By Denise A. Raymo


4 April 2007