PITTSFORD – Residents urged the town’s elected officials Wednesday to do their research on the proposed wind project and make sure they protect the interests of the taxpayers throughout the proceedings.
“If we allow this (project) to happen, future generations will rightfully be scorned,” said resident Beth Peterson at a public meeting.
Peterson, along with several Pittsford and Florence residents voiced their concerns to the Select Board regarding the proposed 20-turbine wind farm on Grandpa’s Knob ridgeline.
“I want to address the key point thinking about Pittsford’s history and what we want Pittsford’s future to be,” said Vanessa Mills.
Mills urged town officials to protect the rights of landowners in the area and make sure they bring a property value agreement to the table at every point of the proceedings. A petition is being circulated that would make sure town officials present the property value guarantee to the developer.
Manchester-based developer Reunion Power has proposed the installation of up to 20 turbines on the Grandpa’s Knob in West Rutland, Castleton, Hubbardton and Pittsford. The estimated cost of the project would exceed $100 million, according to the developer.
“I appeal to you to use every bit of power to question the project’s integrity,” said resident Lisa Wright-Garcia. “I am begging public officials to do that for us. The public doesn’t have a voice.”
Wright-Garcia asked why the project was still being pursued if the Pittsford town plan restricts development on the ridgeline. She said if she proposed any development on Biddie Knob, another portion of Grandpa’s Knob ridgeline, residents would show her the town plan and the burden of proof would be on her.
“This is a project, of this magnitude, that will undoubtedly change the mountain. It will undoubtedly change the region,” she said.
According to the town plan, Biddie Knob was identified as a location that presents a limitation to extensive development due to its slope and poor soils.
“Development here should be limited so as not to disturb the delicate nature of these areas,” read the document.
At the meeting, Mills also brought up a subpoena from 2009 by the office of the Attorney General of the State of New York against the company during an investigation into allegations of misconduct by several companies that allegedly have received land-use agreements from public officials and residents using cash bribes and other illegal gifts.
“(Company Managing Director) Steve Eisenberg was asked to work with transparency and he has not done that,” Mills said. “I am urging town officials to look into this. I urge you to think about getting into business with them.”
In a phone conversation on Thursday, Eisenberg confirmed the subpoena and said the Attorney General’s office withdrew the administrative subpoena after their investigation.
“There were three developers investigated and we were completed cleared,” he said. “They found nothing.”
Select Board Chairman Hank Pelkey thanked everyone for their comments and said they will be taken very seriously as the project moves forward.
Town Manager John Haverstock said a meeting with the Reunion Power team has been scheduled for June 6, but the location has not been determined. He also said he will continue to look into the project and is considering making a trip to the Sheffield wind farm.
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