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Planners to view wind farm issues

After a summer hiatus, members of the Clayton Planning Board will sit down to educate themselves on the impacts associated with wind farm development.

At a workshop session this week, the Planning Board will look at the economic and health concerns associated with wind turbines, chairman Roland A. “Bud” Baril said.

The Planning Board is the lead agency for the environmental review of Horse Creek Wind Farm, a 62-turbine project proposed between Gunns Corners and Depauville. PPM Atlantic Renewable, the company proposing the development, submitted a draft generic environmental impact statement, or collection of studies on the proposed wind farm, last winter. The company still is reviewing the comments on those studies.

The work session comes shortly after the Environmentally Concerned Citizens Organization of Jefferson County held an informational meeting on wind power, where potential health effects of turbines were a major focus and possible effects on property values were discussed. The group is opposed to the turbine setbacks proposed for the Horse Creek Wind Farm.

Mr. Baril said the Planning Board will begin discussing how to study potential economic and health effects, and probably will ask for advice from experts.

“The ECCO group feels very strongly that land values will go down,” Mr. Baril said. “We need to find out for sure that’s a fact.”

Mr. Baril said there are two people with medical experience on the board, Preston L. Lowe, an optometrist, and John S. Eppolito, a dentist, who may be able to recruit experts. The board also has help from engineers Bernier, Carr & Associates, Watertown.

Patricia A. Booras-Miller, vice president of the citizens group, said the town should re-evaluate its zoning law for turbines. She said the group believes the 1,250-foot setback from homes and roads is not adequate, and a setback of about 2,000 feet is called for.

“Even though scientists and researchers want a setback of 1 or 1.25 miles, we’re trying to be more realistic,” she said.

Both Mr. Baril and town Supervisor Justin A. Taylor said the town would be willing to look at the group’s concerns with the zoning law.

By Kelly Vadney

Publication: Watertown Daily Times

Publication Date: 09/24/2007