MADISON – The cafetorium of Madison Central School was filled to near-capacity on Wednesday evening, April 18, when many area residents turned out to voice their opinions – both pro and con, some very emotional – on the proposal to construct as many as 36 windmills in the township.
The meeting was opened by Paul Crovella, planning board member, who told the audience that all comments must be responded to before a final decision can be made, and added that written comments will be accepted until May 18.
Approximately 50 people signed up to speak and their presentations covered a wide range of topics. Those speaking in favor of the project described the current windmills as “beautiful,” “stately,” and “mesmerizing,” while those in opposition cited many items in the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Study (DGEIS) that needed to be studied and corrected. These included sound decibels, flicker, accurate site maps to show the residences in the area and windmill locations, effects on wildlife, views and more.
Allison Hutchings, reading a letter from her grandfather, Ken Stone, who was out of town, was the first to speak and called the Tinker Hollow area near the current windmills “one of the most beautiful places on earth.” Stone Road resident Doug Waterman said that he, himself, had concerns with the original project but now has no problem with them. Waterman also cited some of the financial benefits of the windmills.
McCormick Road resident Jane Welsh told the board that they “never should have accepted the DGEIS,” adding that the “developers application remains incomplete.” Marge Parry, who also lives on McCormick Road, added her concerns, especially for the seven that could be built in very close proximity to her home.
“This has no place in a residential neighborhood,” she said.
Before offering his opinion on the proposal, Ron Bono, town supervisor, said he was pleased with the turnout but said he wished that many of those in attendance would come to other events in the township such as church dinners, the Memorial Day parade, and more.
Bono then told the board that he was “proud of the wind farm we have and it has served us well” but added, that after much thought and a visit to the windmill farm in the Herkimer County, he now wonders if the number requested is too many.
“I think the size of the project should be cut in half,” he stated.
Earlier in the week, village of Hamilton officials sent a letter to the planning board citing several concerns they have for the project. Among those are the proposed route (using Madison Street) to deliver the turbines and materials needed for the construction and in the future; the impact on approaches and departures from the Hamilton Municipal Airport, as well as the number of lights on the turbines that could cause problems with air traffic; the visual impact from locations around the village; and the yet-to-be determined size or distribution of PILOT payments that the Hamilton School district would receive. The letter also stated that these concerns follow a close review of the DGEIS, done by Sean Graham, village administrator.
The planning board has said that all comments heard during last week’s meeting will be taken into consideration during the decision process. Written comments must be submitted by 5 p.m. on May 18 and may be sent to the Town of Madison Planning Board, P.O. Box 66, Madison, N.Y. 13346 or left at the town office during regular hours.
The next regular meeting of the planning board is set for 7:30 p.m. on May 2. Following the meeting the planning board and town board will a workshop on a proposed moratorium, submitted by Madison Matters. Although the meetings are open to the public, no comment will be taken during the workshop.