The Westfield Town Board has classified the proposed Ripley-Westfield Wind Farm project a Type I action under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) and declared itself co-lead agency with the Town Board of the Town of Ripley. The resolution, passed at a special meeting last Wednesday afternoon, formally commences the coordinated environmental review of the project.
Babcock & Brown Renewable Holdings, Inc. submitted an application for Special Use Permit and Part I of the required Full Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) to the Towns of Westfield and Ripley on April 29th. The proposed project would involve the installation and operation of an approximately 125-megawatt wind energy facility consisting of a number of wind turbines yet to be determined. There are 83 potential wind turbine locations identified in the application. The number of actual wind turbines will, according to the applicant, be dictated by meteorological data and the environmental review process. The project also includes an electrical substation, connection to a nearby electrical transmission line and access roadways.
A Type I action under SEQR is an action that meets or exceeds one or more impact-related thresholds contained in the SEQR regulations. Type I actions are more likely than either Type II or Unlisted actions to have a significant adverse impact on the environment.
The resolution passed last week directs Town Supervisor Martha Bills to distribute copies of Babcock & Brown’s application and Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) to all involved and interested agencies.
An involved agency is an agency, municipality or other entity that has the authority to grant one or more discretionary approvals or permits relative to the proposed project. The US Army Corps of Engineers, for example, would be an involved agency for a project that would impact federally regulated wetland areas.
An interested agency is one that, while it may not have the authority to grant any discretionary approvals, has some interest in the proposed project. A neighboring municipality, for example, may be interested in information about a project being proposed just across its jurisdictional boundary.
Westfield Town Supervisor Martha Bills indicated last week that approximately sixteen involved and interested agencies have been identified for the proposed Ripley-Westfield Wind Farm project.
The involved and interested agencies will have thirty days to respond to the Town Boards of Westfield and Ripley with any initial comments on the proposed wind farm project itself or the naming of the Westfield and Ripley Town Boards as co-lead agency.
As co-lead agency, the Town Boards of Westfield and Ripley will work together to coordinate the environmental review process in accordance with SEQR regulations and will utilize the same consultants. At the end of the environmental review process, however, the boards will each issue their own findings and vote on the portions of the project specific to their individual municipality.
Once the thirty day comment period for involved and interested agencies has expired, the Town Boards of Westfield and Ripley will review the EAF and other information submitted by Babcock & Brown and consider agency input in order to render a determination of significance. The determination of significance will dictate the extent of the environmental review process.
By Sara Herrmann
5 June 2008
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