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Clear Skies Over Orangeville to appeal decision

Judge Patrick NeMoyer, acting as Wyoming County Supreme Court Justice, has dismissed a lawsuit by Clear Skies Over Orangeville (CSOO) against the Orangeville Town Board, that claimed the board had little or no evidence to support last year’s approval of the Stony Creek Wind Farm project. The project would erect 59 wind turbines and dozens of miles of new roads and transmission lines near the Attica Reservoir. Judge NeMoyer ruled that the disagreement between the Town Board and CSOO was not sufficient to overturn the approval.

“We showed that the Town Board failed to survey wildlife in the project area as a whole, and thus had no evidence whatsoever to conclude that adverse impacts to wildlife would not be significant,” according to Cathi Orr, CSOO president. “This is especially relevant for avian wildlife, which travel in and out of the project area daily, unlike most mammals who are anyway not going to collide with turbine blades.”

Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle and other migratory birds are found in the Stony Creek project area and are protected by federal law. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has written to Stony Creek and the town board indicating that these birds travel back and forth through the project area to hunt at the Attica Reservoir, and nest in undisturbed forests located south of the project area, away from the reservoir. USFWS also advised that any collision with these birds is punishable as a crime, and advised that the project would shut down should such a collision occur.

Noise from the project was also an important issue in the lawsuit. The court found that by addressing the Town’s 50-decibel noise limit, Stony Creek proved it would not violate the limit. CSOO argued unsuccessfully that Stony Creek’s demonstration is unscientific, and when properly evaluated the project is certain to exceed the limit and keep people nearby from sleeping through the night.

Members of CSOO say they will monitor operations and sound levels, and will make the proper notifications if any protected birds are killed, or if the Town’s noise ordinance is violated.