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Known impacts give town lead agency status  

The recent Times editorial endorsement of the Department of Environmental Conservation as lead agency for the Galloo Island Wind Project misses the point.

The detailed response our Planning Board has submitted to DEC Commissioner Alexander Grannis clearly establishes the legitimate claims by which we are required to be the lead agency for the state environmental review process.

Galloo Island and its surrounding waters and nearby islands are significant areas of the town which are important to its economy and social welfare. It is the town which has primary responsibility for ensuring that the potential adverse impacts to its view shed, economy, and public health and safety are minimized or mitigated.

It is unclear at this time what jurisdiction DEC has over the project and its components. What is clear and not subject to interpretation is the Planning Board’s jurisdiction under its site plan review and approval process.

The editorial assertion that “heavy boat traffic to and from the island could disrupt spawning and bird populations” is speculation at best. By their nature, spawning beds are in shallow water and not passable by large vessels.

In any event, we have retained the services of appropriate experts and consultants to assist us with any issues of concern.

While we respect the work of the DEC in their defined role, we are not prepared to relinquish our responsibilities to the people of Hounsfield in this extremely important project.

It is a matter of accepted practice that the first test for determining lead agency status is whether the impacts are of primarily local, regional or state significance. Primarily means “of first rank, value or importance.” When weighing the known direct impacts, most of which deal with public health, safety and welfare, against the speculative potential impacts noted in your editorial, the known impacts are primarily of local significance.

We are studying all of the pertinent issues at length with a clear understanding of our responsibilities to the residents and taxpayers who have entrusted us with this task. We are also grateful to the various state agencies who have endorsed our position, including the New York State Department of Transportation, New York Department of Health and the New York State Department of General Services.

We would do well to remember that a governmental agency’s self-serving claim that a project may have potential regional and statewide implications doesn’t make it so.

Kathy Snyder

Sackets Harbor

The writer is chairperson of the town of Hounsfield Planning Board.

Watertown Daily Times

26 March 2008

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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