CAPE VINCENT – Town officials got together Thursday afternoon to identify issues that need to be addressed during the state Article X siting process for the proposed Cape Vincent Wind Farm.
Town Councilman Clifford P. Schneider said developer BP Wind Energy, in its correspondence with the town government, talks about its proposed project almost as if a wind farm in Cape Vincent is “inevitable.”
“This is not a done deal,” Mr. Schneider said. “And it’s not inevitable.”
Town councilmen, planners and zoning board members have been reaching out to other agencies that had been involved in BP’s local application for a wind project to uncover issues that were either “ignored or buried” by the previous Planning Board.
Before seeking an Article X siting review, wind developers BP and Acciona Wind Energy USA, which later combined their projects in 2012, had asked local planners to approve their wind farms.
But Cape Vincent officials said Thursday that because several town officials at that time had financial conflicts, some of the record went missing and valid concerns from the town engineer were ignored in some cases.
Mr. Schneider – who had reached out to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Public Service Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – and others found that many of the complaints BP had received years ago still hold true today.
Mr. Schneider told fellow town officials Thursday that some of the common criticisms at the time included the developer’s “insufficient” responses to inquiries, lack of multi-year impact studies and absence of an “alternative scenario” that involves a smaller wind farm.
Planning Board Chairman Richard H. Macsherry said the alternative plan for BP should be “getting out” of Cape Vincent entirely.
“Why necessarily here?” Mr. Macsherry asked. “They don’t own the town.”
Councilman Schneider said the town “will prevail” in the end because “there’s no way” that BP is putting 124 turbines that are nearly 500 feet tall in Cape Vincent.
Cape Vincent’s town government also formed recently a six-member committee with two representatives from each of the three local boards – Town Council, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals – to exchange and gather information in preparation of the state siting process more quickly.
Committee members are town Supervisor Urban C. Hirschey, Mr. Schneider, Mr. Macsherry, Planning Board Vice Chairman Robert S. Brown, ZBA Chairman R. Dennis Faulknham and ZBA member Edward A. Hludzenski.
BP plans to spend more than $300 million to construct a 285-megawatt wind farm by the end of 2014 but needs the state’s blessing to move forward.
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