Two nonprofit environmental organizations have teamed up to call for a comprehensive review of proposed wind farms in Jefferson County.
Save the River and the Thousand Islands Land Trust submitted identical comments concerning the proposed St. Lawrence Wind Farm, Cape Vincent, and the Horse Creek Wind Farm, Clayton.
“The impacts and benefits of wind-energy installations are not constrained by political boundaries,” the organizations wrote. “The Jefferson County Legislature and Jefferson County Planning Department should be involved in coordinating these projects on a countywide basis.”
The comments were sent to both the Cape Vincent and Clayton planning boards, which are handling separate environmental reviews for the projects. While Save the River and TILT are in favor of green energy, the groups have several environmental and planning concerns regarding wind power in the north country.
Aaron R. Vogel, executive director of the Thousand Islands Land Trust, said that there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the proposed wind projects, and that environmental reviews have been rushed. Reviews should examine the effects of all proposed projects together, he said.
“It should be on a countywide scale,” Mr. Vogel said. “It should not be one here, one there.”
Jennifer J. Caddick, executive director of Save the River, said a review on the county level should be the first step in an overarching regional review of the projects, citing proposed wind farms in Canada, including one on Wolfe Island, within sight of Cape Vincent.
“We need to look at all the pros and cons together and make a decision as to where these facilities should be,” she said.
The proposed Wolfe Island Wind Project would bring 86 turbines to the island across the St. Lawrence River from Cape Vincent. Wind-farm developers also are investigating a possible wind farm site in Hammond, St. Lawrence County.
The St. Lawrence Wind Farm would bring up to 96 turbines to Cape Vincent and Horse Creek Wind Farm 62 turbines to Clayton. The proposed Cape Vincent Wind Farm would cross town lines between Cape Vincent and Lyme, bringing 90 to 140 turbines to the area, according to developers.
The environmental review for the Cape Vincent Wind Farm is on hold, because of a brewing lead-agency dispute for its environmental review between the towns of Lyme and Cape Vincent.
The organizations also would like more studies on the potential effects on birds, wildlife and wetlands.
County Legislator Michael J. Docteur, R-Cape Vincent, declined to comment on the possibility of the county becoming involved in a review until he had an opportunity to look over the documents from TILT and Save the River.
The chairman of the Legislature’s Planning and Development Committee, Michael W. Behling, R-Adams Center, said if the county were to become involved in zoning or environmental review, it would have to be at the request of the municipalities.
“These organizations are not the towns. In the long run, it’s going to have to be the towns that ask for it,” he said.
Mr. Behling also was wary of the county having to foot the bill for planning measures. The companies that are proposing the projects are paying for the environmental reviews at the municipal level.
Donald R. Canfield, county planning director, said the county Planning Department cannot create zoning for turbines at a county level, as zoning decisions are left to municipalities under state law. Department staff can offer advice upon municipal request, he said.
Mr. Canfield added that the county Planning Board will be involved in the final site plan review for wind farms under state General Municipal Law.
By Kelly Vadney
Publication: Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, NY)
Publication Date: 06/19/2007
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