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Cape residents say wind farm plan doesn't honor setbacks 

CAPE VINCENT – St. Lawrence Wind Farm has proposed turbine locations short of a 1,000-foot setback the company pledged to honor, mapping some industrial windmills closer to properties that are not participating in its project.

Former town Councilman Clifford P. Schneider wrote the town Planning Board about the locations, saying he found 30 proposed turbine sites that are closer than 1,000 feet to nonparticipating parcels.

“I assumed a parcel was nonparticipant in the project if there were no wind turbines or connecting lines noted within the parcel’s property lines,” he wrote.

While the town never passed zoning for wind turbines, St. Lawrence Wind Farm, which is being developed by AES Acciona Wind Power NY, agreed to follow the proposed regulations that were drafted. The last proposed zoning amendment would have required commercial turbines to be set back 1,000 feet from “exterior” or nonparticipating property lines.

Todd R. Hopper, project manager for the St. Lawrence Wind Farm, said the maps for the project are not complete and will change to reflect the 1,000-foot setbacks. Some landowners, he said, have not decided whether they will participate in the project. Others may have agreed to participate after the map was drawn.

“There are a couple of turbines that are closer than 1,000 feet,” he said. “If those people do not participate, those numbers will change.”

Sarah F. Boss, a member of the Wind Power Ethics Group, a citizens organization that has opposed the St. Lawrence Wind Farm, is among the nonparticipating property owners who have turbines closer than 1,000 feet to their property line.

Ms. Boss said she had initial conversations with Mr. Hopper when the wind farm was first proposed, but never signed a contract.

In the end, placing turbines on her property would limit its recreational use, she said. It also would place turbines closer to the St. Lawrence River than she would like.

Ms. Boss owns 140 acres of land. There are proposed turbine locations within 100 feet of her property line, according to St. Lawrence Wind Farm’s map.

Ms. Boss said she never spoke to the company about the situation.

“I thought they were supposed to do 1,000 feet, so why aren’t they doing 1,000 feet?” Ms. Boss asked. “We don’t know what they’re doing.”

Another Cape Vincent resident, Andrew J. Norris, said he believes turbines were placed close to his property for convenience.

“The reason why they’re placing them where they are is accessibility,” he said.

The residents live directly off Route 12E, where it would be easy to get to turbines without building extensive roadways, Mr. Norris said.

“They said they weren’t going to put them in anyone’s backyard and they have,” he said. “My main concern is my property value.”

A proposed turbine location is about 1,000 feet from his house, which sits on five acres of property, he said.

St. Lawrence Wind Farm does not have Mr. Norris’s property defined on its map. Mr. Hopper said some of the smaller pieces of property, identified with owners’ names, have not been mapped.

Mr. Norris said he spoke with St. Lawrence Wind Farm about the fact that turbines were proposed closer to his property than the company promised for nonparticipating landowners. He did not receive any guarantees that the locations would be moved, although he was told they were still preliminary, he said.

“I talked to the company and I got smiles and a handshake and nothing more,” he said.

Mr. Hopper said the company will do a field study to confirm where all houses and buildings are this summer, and then will ensure that turbine locations are set back.

The proposed law would have required a setback of 750 feet from residential buildings on parcels that are participating in the wind farm. The law would have required turbines be 1,000 feet away from churches, schools and public gathering places such as parks.

By Kelly Vadney

Publication: Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, NY)

Publication Date: 06/24/2007

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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