HAMMOND – The Black Lake Chamber of Commerce has weighed in on wind issues in Hammond, and, according to its president, the construction of an industrial wind farm would be a “devastating blow” to the local economy.
“Initially, we were watching and waiting on other communities that were ahead of us in the same process,” said Cara A. “Candie” Bliss, chamber president, on Monday. “As wind facilities were installed closer to home, we’ve followed the affects on their communities. As more time has passed, it has become harder and harder to discount the testimonies of folks who are actually dealing with the realities of living in or near these industrial wind farms.
“We’ve seen and heard first hand from people in Cape Vincent and residents of Wolfe Island about how the Wolfe Island facility has effected them personally. We’ve seen the night sky over the St. Lawrence dotted with red blinking lights. We’ve seen for sale signs in front of waterfront, riverview homes that now look at dozens of turbines. None of them have sold.”
Comprising nearly 60 member businesses located on the shores of Black Lake and in surrounding areas, the chamber is greatly affected by tourism and seasonal activity that focuses primarily on outdoor recreation on and around Black Lake, Mrs. Bliss said in a letter addressed to the Morristown and Hammond town boards, and to the Hammond Wind Advisory Committee.
“Decisions made by these two boards may ultimately impact the lives and livelihoods of literally hundreds, if not thousands of local and seasonal residents and businesses,” Mrs. Bliss said in the letter.
While “not taking a position pro or anti wind energy,” the letter represents “the concerns of our members with regard to Iberdrola’s proposed Stone Church Wind project, and the effects it might have here on our already fragile economy.”
Eight areas of concern are outlined, including the construction phase, visual impact, noise pollution, physical discomfort, wildlife, water supply, safety, and “transmission towers/stray voltage/dirty electricity.”
Prospective economic impacts, according to the letter, involve the loss of property value, tax revenue, tourism revenue, seasonal revenue, lost jobs, community/regional business income and property tax.
The chamber feels that each wind facility should be reviewed individually and that the prospects of an industrial wind farm in the Hammond area represents a unique situation.
“We have been unable to find an installation in a similar area whose local economy depends so heavily on outdoor recreation and tourism, nor a relevant study that addresses the issues specific to our situation.
“We directed to Maple Ridge as an example,” the letter continues. “We went there. Different community, different local economy, different topography, shorter towers, etc. Not relevant to our location.
“Other installations in the area (like Wolfe Island) reinforce our concerns about visual impact as well as diminished property values and health issues reported by residents.”
In closing, the chamber makes its position clear.
“The bottom line is that installing and operating a commercial, industrial power plant in the middle of this community would deal a devastating blow to our local/regional economy and to the families who live, work and play here.
“Please consider this and each of these issues as you go forward. Your decisions and actions could change our land, our livelihoods and our lives forever,” the letter states.
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