Neighbors in one Southern Tier community want their opinions heard on a controversial wind farm project.
James Hall owns more than 30 acres of land in Prattsburgh. Plans call for a wind farm to be built on 48 properties here. Some land owners have already agreed to sell.
A month ago town officials voted to use eminent domain, if needed, to take the rest, including Hall’s. Eminent domain is when a government can force a property owner to sell his land for a project that benefits the entire area. But Hall says the town hasn’t proven that the wind farm will be beneficial to the area.
“If we allow the misuse of eminent domain for profit margins from any developer that does not provide a public benefit to the community, we are setting a precedent that can be used by gas leases and oil leases,” says Hall.
“It’s just fundamentally wrong. This is not the American way to condemn people’s property for a private project that hasn’t been deemed as a positive impact on the town,” says Al Wordingham.
The developer, First Wind, plans on building 36 wind turbines like already up in near-by Cohocton. Some Prattsburgh neighbors say the turbines will be too noisy and will affect wildlife. They’re also concerned they will decrease the value of their properties. Neighbors are getting a chance to voice their opinions on eminent domain at a public meeting.
“It will create jobs. I think it’ll help the energy situation with the price of gas these days,” says Rich Simpson, who’s lived in Plattsburgh for 30 years.
Town and First Wind officials did not return our calls for comment.
Reported by: Naveen Dhaliwal
22 May 2008
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