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Ashford Town Board hears pros and cons on windmill energy

Forty people attended the town of Ashford public hearing Monday night, Aug.9, as the Board of Directors heard comments on the proposed Wind Energy Facilities law.

Approximately a dozen citizens vocalized their concerns regarding Wind Energy Conversion Systems, aka windmills. Many of those who spoke talked directly about the law’s purpose – to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the public.

West Valley resident Susan Munson claimed that she and her husband Art were long-time proponents of wind power but told the board, “All I ask is not to see or hear them.”

“I don’t have a problem with windmills,” said Jean Ford, who later added that any income from WECS would be “like a crop for farmers in this area.”

Glen O’Conner traveled from Eagle to warn the board of issues such as lost television signals, evening shadow flicker and constant noise. Armed with his laptop, after the hearing was adjourned, O’Conner showed a video of the shadow flicker in his backyard.

It will be up to Town Supervisor Chris Gerwitz as to when this proposed law will come up for vote. A six month moratorium had been placed on windmill construction within town limits in June 2009. According to Town Clerk Patricia Dashnaw, “There has been nothing to prevent the windmill companies from dealing directly with landowners.”

Don Howard spoke briefly in favor of wind power, while Tom McCloud questioned the need for their intrusion. Fred Bond volunteered to take all the units the town wanted to send his way.

“My big concern is paying for their decommissioning,” said Board member Bill Heim. O’Conner cited a figure of $20,000 per unit for razing turbines in the town of Eagle, while Art Munson had information claiming a windmill’s shelf life to be about 20 years.

Eric Boberg of the Town Planning Board said that they had been “over it and over it and over it,” while Bob Potter said that by passing the proposed law, “You are doing the best that you can.”

“I had hoped for a bigger showing,” Gerwitz said, but had to be pleased when Bond reflected on the small handful of residents who were in attendance 50 years ago when representatives “shoved West Valley Nuclear down the town’s throat.”