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Windmill project under discussion  

When the Hamburg Town Board conducted a public hearing on its proposed wind energy ordinance Monday night, its members emphasized it wasn’t just about BQ Energy’s Steelwinds project on the old Bethlehem Steel property.

But the Steelwinds project is the only active, industrial wind project in the town. It is in one of the only heavy industrial zones in town – the zoning where turbines would be allowed under the proposed ordinance.

Mark Mitskovski, the project manager for Steelwinds, praised the town’s effort in putting the ordinance together. His company contributed to the regulations.

“A lot of paper has passed hands,” he said, referring to the give and take and information sharing.

But he said he was concerned about elements of the ordinance and that some of his company’s turbines could be jeopardized.

Steelwinds wants to build six turbines in Hamburg, as well as adding to its eight in Lackawanna.

The rules call for a 1,500-foot setback from any homes and also set public highway and railroad setbacks.

Councilman D. Mark Cavalcoli said the distances may be high but that it gives the town – through the Planning Board – the option of allowing lesser lengths if the developer can make a convincing argument for it or get the neighbors to waive their right to the full setback.

Mitskovski also asked for relaxation of measures requiring the developers to provide for eventual removal of the towers if they are shut down, saying the steel involved in the construction made removal certain in that kind of situation.

“With the price of scrap metal so high, we would make money if we were to remove it right now,” he said.

The Steelwinds project had been receiving almost unanimous support in public meetings, but some residents voiced concerns Monday.

Nick Buscaglia of Wanakah said the eight turbines already operating across the border in Lackawanna have changed how he looks at the lake.

“It’s an awful-looking sight, to look out and look across the water and see those things,” he said. “We only have one lake and one chance to develop our waterfront, and we’re putting in windmills.”

From the Hamburg Town Beach area, the turbines are close enough that they dwarf the Buffalo city skyline in the background.

Meanwhile, Joe Killian, the leader of a bloc of Hamburg taxpayer groups, said that from his perspective the turbines would be better than what used to be there. “I lived in Woodlawn for the first 10 years of my life, and I remember a hundred smokestacks sending smoke straight up in the air, all different colored smoke,” he said.

By Elmer Ploetz
News Staff Reporter

The Buffalo News

12 June 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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