HAMMOND – When Hammond adopts a law regulating wind turbines, it needs to protect waterfront landowners, a group of taxpayers that makes up 75 percent of the town’s tax base, according to members of the committee drafting a proposed ordinance.
Tri-chair Michele W. McQueer led the meeting on the economics of industrial wind turbines, and suggestions included the following:
* Placing turbines in one isolated area within the town
* Establishing a special setback from the St. Lawrence River
* Limiting the height of the wind turbines for the project
Committee members were asked, one by one by Mrs. McQueer, what issues concerning economics they wished to discuss.
Tri-chair Rudolph Schneider opened with the topic of tourism.
Allan P. Newell said he felt tourism in Hammond could be “attributed to the natural beauty of the area.” He questioned whether the construction of 500-foot tall windmills would add to this.
Richard Champany suggested placing the turbines in one isolated area.
“Make it an attraction,” he said.
Tri-chair Ronald R. Papke said he believed that tourism in Hammond equated to the town’s seasonal residents. Mr. Papke said he felt wind turbines would have a negative impact on not only the viewscape, but also on property values in the vicinity. He asked what the committee needs to suggest to put into the law to protect tourism.
“How about a special setback from the (St. Lawrence) river?” suggested Frederick A. Proven.
Mr. Schneider said that in Cape Vincent and other communities along the Golden Crescent, a two-and-a-half mile setback has been established from the shoreline.
“The waterfront must be protected. That’s our industry. That’s where 75 percent of the tax base comes from,” he said.
According to the committee, the overall Hammond property value is approximately $219 million, with about $165 million being waterfront property.
“Two-and-a-half miles is excessive,” said Mrs. McQueer. “Two miles is excessive. No other project in the state has two mile setbacks.”
“No other project has the river running right along its border either,” said Mr. Papke.
“How about limiting the turbine height?” Mr. Schneider asked.
Mrs. McQueer said the project would result in 10 to 12 long-term jobs and hundreds of temporary jobs during construction.
Iberdrola representative Dan Murdie said he did not know if local residents would be hired for the positions or what qualifications they would need.
“I don’t have that information in front of me,” he said.
As the meeting drew to a close, Merritt V. Young asked Mrs. McQueer how much she thought Hammond was worth.
“I didn’t know we were selling Hammond,” she replied. “Anybody have anything else?”
“That you want to hear?” asked Mr. Schneider.
The committee will meet again on Monday at 7 p.m. at the village hall. Possible subjects include the effects of industrial wind farms on property values, as well as a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement) vs. full taxation.