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Concrete company files liens against property owners

People in Herkimer County who were against the building of the Hardscrabble Wind Farm have a new reason to be frustrated with the project. A company involved in construction has filed a lien against several area property owners, including some with no turbines on their land. Our Sarah Blazonis tells us what this means for those residents.

HERKIMER COUNTY, N.Y. – About 30 landowners who live among the towering turbines of the Hardscrabble Wind Farm got an unwelcome surprise last week: Liens on their properties for the amount of $1.9 million.

“I was shocked,” said Jeff Roche.

Roche is deputy supervisor of the Town of Fairfield and has one turbine on his property. He says the lien stems from a dispute between contractor M.A. Mortenson Company and Saunders Concrete Company. Work on the turbines was halted in November when the concrete used didn’t pass stress tests. Saunders now says it’s owed almost $2 million in fees.

“I knew that they were in binding arbitration and I was very concerned that this was going to cause problems within the community,” said Roche.

Right now, it’s created a headache for homeowners.

“It’s going on their record that there is an outstanding debt, evidently, that has been in question,” said Sylvia Rowan, Herkimer County Clerk.

Officials say property liens affect a landowner’s credit, ability to get a job and sell their home.

Those with turbines on their property aren’t the only ones affected. People who never actually had construction done were also included in the lien and Roche says that’s increased already strong anti-wind farm sentiment in the community.

“That feeling that, ‘Here we go again.’ We weren’t told what was going on. We weren’t told of this type of an impact or, in fact, that it could happen,” said Roche.

Roche says Iberdrola Renewables, the company in charge of the project, has sent out apology letters to residents. It’s also communicated that it’s working to fix the situation and have the liens removed from landowners’ records.

Lawyers for Saunders Concrete did not respond to requests for comment.