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No Allegany windmills — at least for now

ALLEGANY – In a surprise announcement, Allegany Town Supervisor John Hare told dozens of people gathered at Tuesday’s meeting that EverPower Wind LLC has decided to pull back from construction of a proposed wind farm in 2014.

While Mr. Hare’s announcement was met with applause by the opponents of the controversial 29-wind turbine farm, the supervisor tempered the news with a caveat.

“This doesn’t mean they’re pulling away; I want to make that crystal clear,” Mr. Hare said in explaining a conversation he had Monday with EverPower Senior Vice President Chris Shears.

Mr. Hare said the EverPower official told him the company was holding off the project because the price of equipment had gone up and it wasn’t “economic” to proceed at this time.

“There’s a delay in the project, but it’s not necessarily the end of the project,” Mr. Hare said. “I don’t want anyone walking out of here with the misconception that is the case.”

The $160 million wind farm was approved by the previous town board in 2011 for the hilltop communities of Chipmonk and Knapp Creek. The project was initially delayed by a lawsuit filed by Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County, which dropped the suit in July 2012.

Other issues that have continued the delay include two additional lawsuits filed earlier this year by EverPower against the town; both remain in the courts. There has also been resistance from the towns of Allegany and Carrollton regarding the transportation routes to construction sites.

Audience members who commented included Karen Mosman, a Chipmonk resident and member of Concerned Citizens. Mrs. Mosman handed petitions to board members that had been signed by residents against the project.

“We want to let all you green shirts know that we aren’t going away,” Mrs. Mosman said, referring to spectators wearing brightly colored Allegany F.R.E.E. T-shirts representing a local group in favor of the project.

Her comment stirred some arguments among the residents, prompting another comment from Mr. Hare.

“An option this company has is to go through Article 10 and secure a permit that way,” Mr. Hare said. “If they did that, the town would have very little control, and the money the town would receive” could be less than initially negotiated.

Summarizing Article 10 after the meeting, Mr. Hare said the New York Legislature established a state power location review board last year that could be called upon in this case. He said EverPower would be expected to complete a new application for the project, but the state would take over as the lead agency and would make all decisions and deliberations, taking that power away from the community.

“They are definitely not walking away from this, they’re still committed to building something here, it’s just not going to be this coming year,” Mr. Hare added.

In reply to this, a man in the audience stated, “It’s hard to get rid of the devil.”

Commenting in favor of the project was Kathy Martin, spokesperson for Allegany F.R.E.E.

“Allegany F.R.E.E. is here to show in a positive way that we still support the wind project, and we’re still hopeful the project will go ahead,” Mrs. Martin said. “It would be a shame if a small group of local opponents are able to stall the project, but we remain hopeful it will be a part of our future.”