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Cape declines halt on wind; Re-vote likely when all councilmen present  

Credit:  By ROBERT BRAUCHLE, TIMES STAFF WRITER, Watertown Daily Times, www.watertowndailytimes.com 18 August 2010 ~~

CAPE VINCENT – A special meeting expected to temporarily halt wind power development in the town ended anticlimactically Tuesday, with the Town Council failing to pass a resolution.

The measure, presented by Supervisor Urban C. Hirschey, would have suspended all actions pertaining to wind development until a state Attorney General’s office investigation is complete.

With council members Mickey W. Orvis and Marty T. Mason on vacation, the town board would have needed all three members present to vote in favor of the resolution for it to pass.

Mr. Hirschey and Councilman Brooks J. Bragdon voted in favor of the resolution; Councilman Donald J. Mason abstained.

Mr. Mason’s decision drew both groans and claps from the standing-room-only crowd of roughly 300 at the South James Street Recreation Park building.

Mr. Mason said he needed more time to consider the resolution and would like all five board members present for the vote.

“This meeting could have happened this week or the next week,” he said. “It didn’t have to happen tonight.”

The councilman also wished to consult a lawyer before voting because he holds a tentative contract with a wind power company.

Following the meeting, Mr. Hirschey said he scheduled the meeting before he knew two council members would be on vacation.

“I expected this to be a work session,” he said. “I didn’t know everyone was going to be here.”

The supervisor said halting wind development would “give the community the breathing space it needs.”

“Frankly, this town has never been the subject of an investigation like this,” he said.

Julia E. Gosier, Three Mile Bay, a member of Voters for Wind, said she plans to follow the council’s action’s closely in the coming days.

The pro-wind group had about 20 members present at the meeting, all wearing matching green shirts.

“Tonight, things went exactly how they should have gone,” she said.

John L. Byrne, Cape Vincent, a critic of wind power development, saw things differently.

“It would be advantageous to pass the resolution as soon as possible,” he said. “If the attorney general thinks there is a problem, then they shouldn’t be moving forward with these projects.”

The lack of action on the Town Council’s part will be followed tonight by the town Planning Board’s discussion of Acciona Wind Energy USA’s proposed final environmental impact statement.

The Planning Board could decide whether to accept the statement and deem it complete, starting the clock for other state agencies to comment on the developer’s proposal.

If the Planning Board considers the document incomplete, it can request further studies and resubmission of the plan.

Acciona plans to construct St. Lawrence Wind Farm, with 51 turbines located in the town.

The final statement proposes moving a turbine 2.9 miles and adjusting 10 turbines to decrease wind turbulence. It includes additional well, wetland and wildlife studies. Five segments of roads and 23 intersections will need improvements to handle the construction, and 31 of the 51 turbines will be lit with simultaneously flashing beacons, according to Federal Aviation Administration standards.

Acciona had initially planned to construct a 53-turbine project. One of the turbines was removed because of expected sound levels and the other because it was in habitat for a state-listed endangered species.

The town Planning Board will meet at 7 p.m. today at the South James Street Recreation Park board room.

Mr. Byrne said he will again push wind critics to attend tonight’s meeting.

The Town Council is expected to schedule another special meeting to discuss the resolution voted on Tuesday night. That meeting has not yet been set.

No public comment was taken during Tuesday’s meeting and none is expected to be allowed during the Planning Board meeting.

Source:  By ROBERT BRAUCHLE, TIMES STAFF WRITER, Watertown Daily Times, www.watertowndailytimes.com 18 August 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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