The only people present at a public comment period on the Enfield wind farm project Wednesday were town board members, representatives of the project, and curious onlookers.
No one spoke during the brief comment period at the Town of Enfield board meeting. The time was designated for public input to a draft scoping document that will determine the extent of an environmental impact statement required before the board approves a building permit for the project.
Project developer John Rancich asked the board to remove a requirement that he provide a survey of avian species within the project area, saying existing surveys done by Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology will likely fulfill the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s requirement.
If existing studies are acceptable, it would defray the cost of the environmental impact study, he said.
The current draft of the document asks for studies and explanations of the project’s purpose, construction and operation, the site’s geology, water resources and wildlife, and considerations of impacts on the area’s aesthetics, agriculture, traffic, public health, noise, and historic, cultural and archaeological resources, as well as several other issues.
The comment period on the scoping document will remain open until Sunday, and the board expects to approve the final scoping document Sept. 8.
Rancich and project manager Marguerite Wells also asked the board to consider signing a letter of intent of long-term power purchase.
Wells said the letter is non-binding and does not include a price for power from the wind farm, but will be used when securing financing for the farm to show that municipalities and businesses in the area are interested in doing business with the farm.
“It’s just a nod toward whether or not you’re even interested in buying our power,” Wells said.
She said she has approached the Tompkins County Council of Governments with the letter. Rancich said Ithaca College has already signed a letter of intent.
“My thought is, it’s in our community, so we should be buying the power,” Board member Debbie Teeter said.
Town Supervisor Roy Barriere said he would bring the letter to the board after vetting it with the town attorney.
Though there was initial opposition to the wind farm in Enfield, Rancich said most of that has died down.
“There is no doubt in my mind that a wind farm will be standing there,” he said to a resident who came out of curiosity about the project. “I can’t tell you if it will be next year or three years from now, but it will be there.”
One Enfield resident arrived after the end of the public comment period to voice opposition to the wind farm. Dan Sepos said he came to urge the board to vote against the project.
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