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Judge Ark: One more chance to settle lengthy wind farm dispute

Prattsburgh, NY – A ruling could come within two weeks in the long-running dispute between wind developer Ecogen and the towns of Prattsburgh and Italy.
Prattsburgh Town Councilman Chuck Shick told the town board Monday the ruling by state Supreme Court Justice John Ark has been delayed in the hopes the two sides will reach a settlement. About two dozen residents attended the regular board meeting.
Ecogen intends to put a 34-turbine wind farm in the two towns, with 16 planned for Prattsburgh, and a substation and 18 turbines in Italy, located in Yates County.
Shick, town Supervisor Al Wordingham, and their legal counsel from Bond, Schoeneck and King met Sept. 27 with Ark and legal representatives from Ecogen and the town of Italy.
Shick said Ark made it “pretty clear” during the meeting he wants the sides to come to an out-of-court agreement. Ark also expressed concern about the cost of the legal dispute to the towns and Ecogen.
Shick said the Prattsburgh representatives told Ark their primary concern was setbacks ensuring the health and safety of residents. A decline in property values also was an issue, Shick said.
Since then, the town has submitted to the court Ecogen’s original site map with 100 possible locations for turbines. The site map shows Ecogen originally planned to put up roughly 20 turbines in a portion of the town near Allis Road, board members said Monday night.
The Allis Road location would be remote enough to protect residents from noise and allow Ecogen to go forward with its plan, board members said.
So far, there has been no response from Ecogen, Shick said.
The legal battle between Prattsburgh and Ecogen began early last year, when a new town board rescinded 3-1 a December agreement allowing the developer to determine the road use agreement without town input. The new board maintained the earlier agreement violated home rule.
The project had been welcomed by the town board and many residents when it was first proposed in 2002.
The wind farm would provide needed revenues for the leaseholders, town, county and state during a faltering economy, according to supporter Bruce Taylor, of Prattsburgh. He complained too much attention has focused on the negative side of wind development, which also provides an alternative form of energy.
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” he said.
But other residents have charged throughout the process the turbines are inefficient electrical generators and pose a threat to people and the environment.
Shick said Ark will rule soon if no agreement is reached.
“I expect the judge will probably rule in a couple of weeks,” he said.