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Benson Mines asks OK for wind power testing

STAR LAKE – The Adirondack Park Agency will consider allowing installation of a temporary 164-foot tower with weather-monitoring instruments at Benson Mines to determine whether there is enough wind to justify a wind farm proposal.

The owners of Benson Mines have proposed up to 10 wind turbines for their more than 3,000-acre property in the town of Clifton. The 10-inch-diameter pole and equipment would collect wind speed and direction data for 12 to 24 months.

“This is a very preliminary stage,” said attorney Bernard C. Melewski, who represents Benson Mines.

The company needs to take measurements for more than a year to make sure recordings are consistent, he said.

The regulatory program committee is scheduled to discuss the company’s application Thursday. The full APA board will consider it Friday. Staff has recommended approval, APA spokesman Keith P. McKeever said.

Benson Mines, where iron ore was processed for years, is next to the 54-acre former Jones & Laughlin site, which is contaminated, but one of the few properties zoned industrial in the park. Benson Mines has easy access to power lines.

The company would place the measurement pole on a ridge about one mile from Route 3 and one-half mile from County Route 50. People traveling west on Route 3 will see the tower for about one mile, according to visibility studies.

Other areas of visibility include small stretches of Route 3 at Star Lake, along County Route 50 within the industrial use land area and in the hamlet of Newton Falls. In those locations, the tower is generally below the average tree canopy, but might be visible within the tree line.

“It’ll go up very rapidly,” Mr. Melewski said. “It’s an off-the-shelf purchase.”