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More than 50 people attend meeting to show support of wind farm

ALLEGANY – More than 50 people in favor of the construction of a wind farm in Allegany attended the Town of Allegany regular board meeting Wednesday to show their support for the project.

The group, calling themselves Allegany FREE, an acronym for Friends of Renewable Energy and Economic Development, were represented by spokesperson Kathy Martin of Allegany, a longtime proponent of the project. Many at the meeting wore bright green T-shirts that sported the logo Wind Power Makes Us Stronger.

“We are here to show the town board there is actually a lot of grassroots support for the wind farm,” Mrs. Martin said prior to the meeting. “The Concerned Citizens (of Cattaraugus County) have been very vocal in their opposition and up to this point the supporters have not been organized, but we are getting organized and are willing to speak out.”

Ron DeMattio, another longtime proponent of the project, said he was glad to see others from the community solidify into a vocal group.

“It’s nice to see the people pull this together,” Mr. DeMattio said.

The $160 million 29-turbine wind farm by EverPower Wind, LLC, was approved by the previous town board in 2011 for the hilltop communities of Chipmonk and Knapp Creek. The controversial project was initially delayed by a lawsuit filed against the project by Concerned Citizens, which dropped the suit in July of 2012. Other issues that have continued the delay include two additional lawsuits filed earlier this year by EverPower against the town, which remain in the courts. There also has been resistance from the towns of Allegany and Carrollton regarding the transportation routes to the construction sites. Town officials said EverPower has not applied for a permit for the project as they do not have approval from the town Planning Board to proceed. No EverPower officials were at the meeting, and just a few Concerned Citizens were on hand.

During the meeting, Mrs. Martin told the board said she believes the project is worthwhile because it will reduce dependency on fossil fuels, while creating jobs and spurring economic development.

“I know this wind farm won’t single-handedly eliminate carbon emissions. There’s nobody here who believes that,” Mrs. Martin said. “But every wind farm accepted by small communities across the country will all add up and have a huge impact.”

She said the “influx of money into the community” through funds from EverPower would be beneficial to the town, school district, fire department and county. Mrs. Martin also stated the group’s belief that the town’s legal issues with EverPower, which sued the town for “breach of contract,” have cost the community $130,000.

Allegany Town Supervisor John Hare clarified that comment by noting that the lawsuits filed by EverPower against the town have resulted in approximately $60,000 in legal fees.

“Certain members of this board, but primarily myself, have been talking to EverPower throughout the spring and summer, and up until last Friday, trying to find a resolution to those lawsuits,” Mr. Hare said. “We’re trying to figure a way to resolve the lawsuits and move forward.”

When an audience member asked Mr. Hare to provide specific information on the lawsuits, he was advised by town attorney Wendy Tuttle to hold his comments because of the litigation.

“We are in the midst of litigation and unfortunately we are not able to talk to you or anyone else about pending litigation,” Ms. Tuttle said. “The bottom line is we have been sued by EverPower, they made allegations against the town and we defended them.”