The Town of Catlin is considering a proposed local law that would allow a clean energy company to erect at least 30 wind turbines in the town, but some residents are concerned about the impact on their rural community.
Grace Lee Church in Beaver Dams was packed Thursday for a public hearing on Local Law No. 2, which would regulate the development, size, placement and operation of wind energy conversion facilities in a manner consistent with the character of the town.
Florida-based NextEra Energy wants to build a wind farm in the Town of Catlin and already has 30 leases signed, according to town Planning Board member Charles Tinker, who has been closely involved in the review process.
At this time, NextEra is not divulging actual locations of parcels where leases were signed, Tinker said.
Tinker acknowledges residents have some legitimate complaints, and said it will be up to the Town Board to decide if this plan is in the best interest of Catlin.
“Starting out there is (possibility of) noise, shadow flicker, setbacks from property lines and nonparticipating property lines,” Tinker said. “At this point in time, my responsibility as a Planning Board member is to put an ordinance or law out there that protects the people in the Town of Catlin.”
Tinker said the planning board’s job is to recommend a law to the Catlin Town Board that has the authority to approve or modify the recommendation.
Given the amount of resistance expressed at the public hearing, there will be no vote on the local law at this week’s Town Board meeting that begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, according to Catlin Town Supervisor LaVerne Phelps.
Some residents don’t want to see the board have a final vote at all. Instead, they would rather see the matter go on the ballot as a public referendum.
Catlin resident Patricia Collins said her biggest concern is that five people on the board will make a decision that will affect everyone in the township.
“There may be more people that want it than don’t want it. I don’t know but everyone should have a voice,” she said.
To get the item on the ballot Collins said a petition for the issue would need to be accepted and filed by Sept. 30.
Resident Vicki Petris agrees that the public should get to vote, and she said there are many troubling aspects of the proposal.
“You have to go with the majority. That’s the fair way as far as I’m concerned,” Petris said. “I didn’t move to the country to have to look at these (turbines). From what I understand, Catlin is selling my view for chump change. I don’t like the fact they kill wildlife, birds and other things I didn’t even realize. This is a real important thing, and it does many times lower property values.”
For more information
• To read the full text of the proposed Wind Turbine Local Law No. 2, go to townofcatlin.com.
• Questions and concerns about the local law can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• For more information about NextEra, go to nexteraenergy.com.
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