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Landowners terminate agreements with wind developer

PITTSFORD – Two more landowners have terminated their easement agreements with the developer of the proposed wind project along the Grandpa’s Knob ridgeline.

According to documents filed with the Pittsford town clerk in early March, Gardner Stone and his son Todd ended their relationship with Grandpa’s Knob Renewable Energy, the project proposed by developer Reunion Power.

The documents filed show that the Stones, who own 1,000 acres on the ridge, entered into an agreement with the project in August 2007, but last year the company failed to make evaluation period payments on the property as required under the agreement.

A condition under a section of the easement agreement allows the owner to terminate the agreement if a payment is not made within 30 days of notice of default. The documents state that the Stones sent the company a notice of default in late October before the termination was written up.

Steve Eisenberg, co-owner and project manager of Reunion Power, confirmed Friday that the Stones had terminated the agreement. He said it was unfortunate, but they are changing things and the project is still going on.

“It’s still in a hiatus, but we are still pursuing the project,” Eisenberg said. “I would not be pursuing it if I did not think it was viable.”

Stone, who owns G. Stone Motors in Middlebury, said Friday the condition in the agreement was his way out, but other factors also contributed to his family pulling their support.

“The main reason was they stopped paying the rent of the land,” Stone said. “But I was not aware of the devastation on the mountain they were going to have.”

When he signed the agreement with Noble Environmental, who used to own the project before Reunion Power purchased the rights and agreements in 2010, he thought the project was a win-win for the county, Stone said.

He said when the project changed hands he was not comfortable with the transactions, and when the scope of the project was expanded to include larger turbines, that seemed to be the final nail in the coffin.

“I was not enlightened about the devastation,” Stone said. “I thought it was the right thing for the community and the state. But then I started doing my own research … We weren’t enlightened with that. I am very pleased (with terminating the agreement).”

The Stones are not the only property owners to terminate their agreements with Reunion Power. Last year, Derek Saari, who also owns property in Pittsford, terminated his easement agreement.

Reunion Power is proposing an 18- to 20-turbine wind project on the Grandpa’s Knob ridgeline in the towns of West Rutland, Castleton, Hubbardton and Pittsford.