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Chemung Co. residents concerned about proposed wind farm

CHEMUNG COUNTY, N.Y. – Voters will decide on a number of hot-button issues this fall but one controversial issue won’t be on the ballot in Chemung County.

“I want the town people to have a voice, I want a voice,” said Patricia Collins.

Collins, who lives on the outskirts of the Town of Catlin, said she worries about what a proposed wind farm could do to the area. She said an issue as important as this should go on the November ballot as a public referendum.

“Everyone around is going to see them all the time. Only 30 to 35 people are going to checks out of it,” said Collins.

NextEra Energy is proposing to place about 30 wind turbines in Catlin as part of its Watkins Glen Wind Project.

It’s still in the early phases of development, but local leaders said NextEra Energy already has about 30 signatures from interested residents. But some neighbors think the cons outweigh the pros.

“They make a lot of noise, they throw ice, in the winter time they can. One of the other things is it can make property values go down too,” said Vicki Petris.

Catlin officials said that the issue doesn’t meet state law requirements to be placed on a ballot, but have held hearings to keep the public informed. The town is currently considering passing a local law that would pave the way for the project.

“If the wind company goes forward, the turbines will be in the town of Catlin, generating revenue going back to the town which will help to offset the loss in sales tax revenue and help stabilize the tax base,” said Catlin Town Supervisor LaVerne Phelps.

Town officials said it could receive about $200,000 a year, which would help offset a loss of $209,000 in sales tax revenue starting in 2018.

“I think we deserve more money than that, we deserve money that. If that money doesn’t even cover are sales tax, what will we do during the year after that,” said Collins.

Questions town leaders said they are willing to answer at an upcoming public forum on September 27 at Grace Lee Church in Beaver Dams at 2 p.m.