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Controversial wind power law closer to passage

Outside the Community House in Cape Vincent the scene was peaceful, quiet.

But inside, tempers flared:

“We’ve had enough, it’s time to just let us function in our own lives as we want to,” said Dennis Pearson, who is concerned with the proposed law.

“I am steamed…alright,” said Richard Edsall, who is also concerned.

It was the town’s second public hearing on a controversial proposed zoning law, designed to restrict the placement of wind turbines.

The law would keep the turbines over a mile a way from the village of Cape Vincent, all schools, and the Scenic Byway. It would also keep turbines at least two miles away from heavily populated areas. Vibration and sound would also be limited.

Town officials say restrictions are needed because Cape Vincent is a proposed site for a $300 million BP Wind Energy farm and town officials worry the company may try to go above them, to the state, to get their way.

“I think it’s a wish list on their behalf, and I’m sure they would like to do that, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be done,” said Cape Vincent Town Supervisor Urban Hershey.

Calls to BP were not returned.

And while the goal for officials is to either limit or completely stop the wind farm, the proposed law has some residents worrying they’ll be the ones feeling the pinch.

“You’re making it more and more restrictive to people who operate here. If they want to go forward, whether it’s to build a house, build a deck, apply for variances,” Pearson said.

“You’re going to have a tough time jumping to making me get a permit, or making any other farmer get a permit,” Edsall said

And after Saturday’s meeting, the plan is for officials to meet on August 1 and possibly vote on the zoning law. Residents tell 7 News that meeting is likely to be as heated as this one.

[On Monday, July 23, wwnytv.com posted the following clarification]

Editor’s Note: Our Reporting On Cape Vincent Hearing

On Saturday July 21, we reported on a hearing held in Cape Vincent, and the continuing dispute over commercial wind power in that community.

We summarized the hearing this way:

“It was the town’s second public hearing on a controversial proposed zoning law, designed to restrict the placement of wind turbines.

The law would keep the turbines over a mile a way from the village of Cape Vincent, all schools, and the Scenic Byway. It would also keep turbines at least two miles away from heavily populated areas. Vibration and sound would also be limited.

Town officials say restrictions are needed because Cape Vincent is a proposed site for a $300 million BP Wind Energy farm and town officials worry the company may try to go above them, to the state, to get their way.”

All of that is true, but we didn’t fully explain that the zoning law covers more than wind power, and that the comments of one of the speakers – Rich Edsall, whom we showed on tv – was directed at a requirement that farmers would have to get a special permit to farm in parts of the Town of Cape Vincent. Edsall’s comments were not directed at the provisions of the zoning law governing wind power, but our story left the impression they were. Our apologies to Rich.

www.wwnytv.com