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Webster board says ‘no’ to wind turbines

Webster, N.Y. – The Webster Town Board has unanimously adopted a resolution opposing the New York Power Authority’s Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project.

“We’re just erring on the side of caution,” Supervisor Ron Nesbitt said before the vote at a Town Board meeting Thursday night, Aug. 5. “It’s just concerning to us that we can’t get more information … and this doesn’t limit us to changing our opinion (at another time).”

The New York Power Authority has identified potential turbine locations off the shores of Webster, Irondequoit, Greece and Rochester – and other potential wind farm sites on Lake Ontario and Lake Erie – and has received five proposals from unidentified developers.

A selection could be made later this year or early next, although construction of a wind farm anywhere is believed to be several years off.

The Greece Town Board last month adopted a resolution opposing the wind project, as have governments in Wayne, Jefferson and Oswego counties.

“The board is in a quandary,” said Councilwoman Patricia Cataldi. “I think this (resolution) leaves the door open for more information.”

Nesbitt said the “generic” resolution the board passed was drafted by Town Attorney Charles Genese.

“I’m not opposed to taking a negative stance until we have more information,” said Councilman Bill Abbott, “but I do know that we’re not going to have a say what goes on in the lake … the lake water is controlled by the federal government.”

Prior to last week’s meeting, the board had been lobbied to pass the “no” resolution on the project, and four residents addressed the board on the topic at the start of the Aug. 5 meeting.

“Given the lack of information (on the project), I think this (passing the resolution) was the only logical thing to do,” said Thomas Wolf after the vote. He said that he lives on Irondequoit
Bay, where opponents say there would be a “staging area” for the turbine project.

“The views across the lake are one of the last remaining unspoiled vistas in this urban area,” Wolf told the board earlier in the evening.

Dave Wohlrab said, however, that he thinks “it’s short-sighted to do a resolution without the facts.” He urged the board to postpone a vote “at least until all the facts are out,” which probably won’t happen until late 2010 or early 2011, after which a two-year comment period would start before the first turbine could be built.

Hank Washburn, of Lake Road in Webster, said he is one of the founding members of Great Lakes Concerned Citizens, a group leading opposition to the project.

“The biggest deterrent I see is that there’s not a wind farm in the country that stands alone,” Washburn told the board. “They are all subsidized … and by no stretch of the imagination are they ‘green.’ They need motors to stop them and unwind the cables and to heat the oil in them.”

Louise McGee told the board that she thought it would be “disaster not to say ‘no’ now … when you might not be able to say ‘no’ later.”