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Windmill fight continues

ALLEGANY – Several dozen residents once again picketed and stood outside a town of Allegany Planning Board meeting Monday in protest of EverPower Wind LLC, which has proposed to build a 29-turbine wind farm in Chipmonk and Knapp Creek.

Later in the meeting at the Allegany Senior Center, EverPower’s request for the town to begin discussions with them again on a previously approved plan was turned down by planning board officials until the company drops its lawsuit.

EverPower had received permission from town of Allegany officials in 2011 to build a $160 million wind farm using 492-foot Nordex N100 model wind turbines. When EverPower later proposed to integrate larger N117 model turbines into the project, board members requested that the company provide a supplemental study on the modified project and address a zoning issue involving a Chipmonk Road residence.

EverPower responded by filing a lawsuit against the town, which is still under court review. Another lawsuit filed by EverPower against the planning board was dismissed in March by the Cattaraugus County Supreme Court.

James Muscato III, an attorney for EverPower, opened the meeting by asking the board to begin discussions on the previously approved plan to expedite the construction project. He said EverPower would also provide an amendment to address the construction of a wind turbine 1,900 feet from property owned by Chipmonk Road resident Ted Gordon.

The location of the wind turbine would not be in compliance with the zoning ordinance. The company is proposing to turn the power down on that particular wind turbine to reduce the sound near Mr. Gordon’s residence.

Frank Defiore, planning board chairman, responded to the request by telling Mr. Muscato and Kevin Sheen, senior director of development for EverPower, the board has unanimously agreed not to honor the request.

“Based on information we received, the planning board is not willing to request the proposal until the litigation … has been terminated,” Mr. Defiore said. “We can’t deal with two things at once.”

Dan Spitzer, special counsel to the town, told EverPower officials he agreed with the town’s position on the request. He said EverPower’s request for the project while holding on to its lawsuit is similar to “having its cake and eating it, too.”

As the meeting was not open to discussion, the 60 to 70 audience members remained silent. Several did comment before and after the meeting, however.

Nate Smith and his father, Dale, were found picketing against EverPower before the meeting, something they’ve done several times before.

“We’re staying strong on this; we’re not backing down,” Nate Smith said. “It’s a waste of money, and it destroys the best part of this area, which is our natural beauty.”

Kathy Boser, president of Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County, said she was pleased with the turnout of residents and members of the organization.

“I think the message is loud and clear that the residents of Allegany are still interested in this project,” Mrs. Boser said. “The sentiment seems like they would like EverPower to go away.”