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Committee’s lone wind supporter pulls no punches; McQueer issues minority report

HAMMOND – Michele W. McQueer says she knew from the start that she was outnumbered on the Hammond wind committee.

“Optimistic person that I am,” she says in her minority report to the town board, “I thought just maybe the town board hadn’t really done that to me. Too bad I was wrong about that.

“This last ten months have been a horrible waste of time – mine and this community’s. You as a town board have done nothing but let this CROH (Concerned Residents of Hammond) group monopolize this wind issue and hold this community hostage.”

Town Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram, according to Mrs. McQueer, charged the committee to take a hard look at the wind facilities law as it pertains to Hammond and to come up with recommendations based on current and defendable information.

That didn’t happen, according to Mrs. McQueer.

“Most of the information that recommendations by the majority were based on is outdated and has to do with old turbine design,” she said. “Unfortunately, it is all easily disputed.”

For the past 10 months, Mrs. McQueer has consistently been on the wrong end of 9-1 committee votes. She used her minority report to question nearly every decision and action the committee made, in addition to providing her own recommendations and supporting documentation.

“Just because one person makes a statement and gets eight more people to agree to it,” she wrote the town board, “does not make what they agree on true or factual, defendable or current.”

In the report, she calls out several people, including fellow committee members, Richard K. Champney, Allan P. Newell, Ronald R. Papke and Dr. Stephen D. Sarfaty, as well as Clifford P. Schneider, Dr. Paul G. Carr, Dr. Paul C. Schomer, and William R. Evans, professionals who made presentations to the committee. Douglas E. Delosh and Dr. James R. Tague, town board members, and Mr. Bertram are also negatively mentioned.

Mrs. McQueer also questions the credibility of Cara A. “Candie” Bliss, Black Lake Chamber of Commerce president, Mary D. Hamilton, Concerned Residents of Hammond (CROH) president, and Erica Demick, a member of CROH who took minutes at wind committee meetings.

“It seems that in my opinion, the recommendations made by this committee all have to do with getting a check from the developer for all of the non-participating residents, under the cloak of public health and safety. This committee never once considered the participating landowner in all of the ten months of meetings, including my opinion or facts.

“My belief is that committee members are making changes to this law arbitrarily to justify the ten months of meetings and so they can say, ‘We made it better,'” she continued, “when in fact, they have not. Just to say, ‘We had to re-write the whole law,’ when in fact, they did not.”

Setbacks and noise standards recommended by the committee, according to Mrs. McQueer, are “extremely excessive and arbitrary,” and “recommended to hinder this development.”

A letter from Jenny Burke, business developer for Iberdrola Renewables Inc., read by Mr. Bertram at Monday’s town board wind work session, also calls attention to the proposed recommendations.

“We note that the proposed recommendations related to sound are so stringent that we believe they would be exceeded by other everyday activities in the vicinity of a wind project, such as vehicles passing on nearby roads,” Ms. Burke said.

The Real Property Value Guarantee (RPVG), according to Ms. Burke, may be a deal breaker.

“As we have previously discussed, experience has shown that our proposed Good Neighbor program, which provides an immediate and clear payment to members of the community in the project area, is a far better way to address this concern than the proposed RPVG, which would be prohibitively expensive and difficult to administer, and which forces landowners to sell their houses and retain expert appraisers to receive any benefit.

“We believe this is an inappropriate way (which would deter any company, in any industry from locating in the community) to address a problem which we would be able to show does not exist.”

Ms. Burke said that despite the “unnecessary” and “excessively restrictive” recommendations, Iberdrola continues to “believe the wind resources in Hammond are viable for a wind project.” She said she will be attendance at the March 14 town board meeting to field any questions from the board.

“We own and operate more than four thousand megawatts of wind farms across the U.S.,” she concluded, “and believe that our extensive experience in the industry and strong working relationships in the communities in which we work are a positive example of the experience we would create in Hammond.”