The wind turbine project in Arkwright has become a front line issue again.
At the town board meeting Tuesday, Supervisor Fred Norton introduced representatives from Conestoga-Rovers Associates, a world-wide engineering, environmental and construction company with experience in wind turbine operation.
“If we are going to be involved in the wind project, it’s important we have a competent engineering firm to advise us,” Norton said.
Bryan Smith, a vice president with Conestoga-Rovers, said the company is involved with wind projects throughout New York State.
Providing the board members with an outline of the state’s Environmental Quality Review flow chart that included the steps that need to be followed once a developer files an application for a wind turbine project, Smith said, “There is quite a row to hoe.”
These include technical requirements that need to be met regarding the potentially significant impact the project would have on the community.
And, although a public hearing on the required environmental impact study is optional, according to state law, Norton said the town board would hold one.
“It’s important to the town that we have one to review the facts,” he said.
Smith said his company would make sure the town board and the community have the opportunity to assess this impact and the company’s review would begin with the developer’s application.
“We assure our clients are getting the best, most accurate information possible and any recommendations we make on critical impacts will be submitted in writing,” he said.
The final decision on the project would rest with the town board, he said.
Joelle Woodward and Elizabeth Booth asked the town board to reconsider the commercial wind turbine law that was adopted.
Both said the portions of the law dealing with setbacks and noise restrictions need to be changed to better protect landowners and those who may want to move to Arkwright in the future.
Cathy Jackson asked Smith if he had read Arkwright’s wind turbine law and what opinion he had of it.
Smith said it was as stringent or more stringent than similar laws in the other communities he has or is working with.
And, in response to questions asked by Norton regarding Conestoga-Rovers involvement with Horizon Wind Energy or other wind turbine developers, Smith said there was none.
“We are a consulting engineering firm that works for our clients and no one else,” he said.
Horizon, will however, be responsible for paying Conestoga-Rovers’ fees for the services the company provides Arkwright.
Norton said the developer will place funds in escrow that will be used to cover these expenses.
“This service will not cost Arkwright anything; we will not be left holding the bag for these fees,” Norton said.
The town board authorized Norton to enter into a retainer agreement with the company, again at no cost to the town.
Paul Derkovitz, who is running this year as a candidate for the town supervisor’s position, questioned Norton about news releases issued by Horizon regarding the estimated revenues the wind turbines would generate for the town.
“It looks like an agreement has already been reached,” he said.
Norton said the town has yet to negotiate with Horizon and when it does, it will call upon the services of attorney Dan Spitzer, who helped draw up Arkwright’s wind turbine law to assist with this.
When Woodward asked if she could become a member of the town’s negotiating team, Norton said no.
“We need to keep the town’s team as close in agreement as possible,” he said.
Jill Casey asked the town board to provide residents with updates on the negotiations and any future development on the turbine project.
“It would help if you would send out newsletters or establish a Web site,” she said.
By Joan Josephson
9 October 2007
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