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Wind farm moves forward  

Credit:  By Nancy Madsen, Times Staff Writer, Watertown Daily Times, www.watertowndailytimes.com 16 September 2010 ~~

CAPE VINCENT – St. Lawrence Wind Farm passed a major marker toward completion when the town Planning Boardapproved the final environmental impact statement Wednesday night.

The action, along with the findings to which the board agreed, marks the end of the environmental review process under the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

“This certifies the requirements of SEQR have been met, and this certifies the mitigation identified and incorporated in the findings will mitigate potential impacts to the maximum extent practicable,” said Todd M. Mathes, of Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna LLP, Albany. Mr. Mathes is the town’s attorney for wind farm matters.

“It is not entitlement to do anything by the applicant, but the conclusion of the SEQR process,” he said.

About 120 people watched the board vote, which was 3-0 with one abstention. Planning Board Chairman Richard J. Edsall and members Thomas K. Rienbeck and George A. Mingle voted for the measure.

Andrew R. Binsley abstained.

“It came to my house yesterday afternoon and I haven’t even looked at it,” he said. “I worked at the elections all day yesterday, and I worked at the Board of Elections all day today.”

The fifth member of the board, Karen Bourcy, did not attend as she has a conflict of interest with the proposed wind farm and has not been involved in its discussion. She has relatives who signed leases with Acciona Wind Energy USA, developer of the project.

“I thank the board for taking this step,” project manager Timothy Q. Conboy said. “Certainly, we feel good about this project.”

Acciona may now submit a complete site plan application for the 51-turbine wind power project. Mr. Edsall said the Planning Board would set a date to accept the application at a regular monthly meeting. The board then would accept it on the date set at a special meeting. A public hearing would occur within two months and the board must act two months later, both by town law.

“I would hope the company would give us four to five to six months to review it, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen,” he said. “If an application is deemed complete, we would schedule a public hearing sometime down the road. Then we have 62 days to make a decision, which I am not personally happy with – it’s not enough time.”

Mr. Edsall also asked the Town Council’s representative at the meeting, Councilman Brooks J. Bragdon, to convey that the Planning Board wants to have a work session with the Town Council.

“We need to talk about items that need to be protected and how we’re going to protect them,” he said.

The council also must choose an enforcement officer for whatever parameters are agreed upon, he said.

Acciona began the environmental review at the end of 2006 and submitted its draft environmental impact statement Jan. 10, 2007. That was followed with a supplemental statement March 25, 2009. Acciona submitted the possible final statement July 28, which was accepted Aug. 18.

Before a vote was taken, Mr. Edsall asked Donald R. Bourquin, a Lyme councilman, if Lyme had any comments. Mr. Bourquin said, “No.”

Mr. Edsall asked Mr. Conboy and Blayne Gunderman if the developer had received any responses from other involved agencies.

“Not at this time, no,” Ms. Gunderman said.

Mr. Rienbeck pointed to four points in the findings that have to be clarified or corrected, all minor.

Mr. Edsall asked Mr. Mathes whether the Planning Board could still change the plan for the wind farm.

“In short, yes,” Mr. Mathes said. “To the extent we ever reach a final decision, if something new came to light, we have the right to address it.”

Source:  By Nancy Madsen, Times Staff Writer, Watertown Daily Times, www.watertowndailytimes.com 16 September 2010

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

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