YATES – A group of landowners who were unable at a county planning board meeting to voice their concerns about a meteorological tower sought by a wind energy business intends to become stronger from it.
Save Ontario Shores’ membership has surpassed 900 members in the month since the meeting, SOS President John Riggi said Thursday, with the group continuing to oppose Apex Clean Energy’s Lighthouse Wind project at the local and state level.
“We’re having an impact,” Riggi said. “SOS is attacking on different fronts, educating people, preparing to litigate or take electoral action … we’re holding people accountable that we need to hold accountable.”
They haven’t been given every opportunity to impress their beliefs, although Riggi said the organization is planning to increase its public footprint after the setback at the planning board meeting.
At their May meeting, planning board members said they were not inclined to wade into a wider discussion of wind turbines, given the special use permit application before them in April called for only the met tower.
Riggi said the group of residents who attended the April meeting understood the narrow focus of the application. They were prepared to present a statement explaining why they opposed the tower, used to collect environmental data, and questioning the need for it.
“If they wanted an understanding of why we were there, they should have asked us,” Riggi said.
According to the undelivered statement, SOS would have argued that the lack of transparency about how the 190-foot tower’s data would be extrapolated for the planning of much larger turbines and the need for a second met tower in a small region were issues worth considering by the planning board.
“(Apex) is not being transparent, and we wanted board to reject the application unless more data was available,” Riggi said. “I don’t think (speaking) would have changed their vote … but it’s galvanized us.”
The planning board can advise town decision-makers to consider potential issues with projects but has the power to make only recommendations. It recommended approval of the met tower’s permit to the Yates Town Board, which will consider it at a public hearing June 11.
Riggi said that meeting is the big deadline for the group. As with the previous meeting, SOS “is working to have them understand specifically where we stand.”
“It’s an easy discussion to have with people, whether they are for or against wind, to understand that industrial sized wind is not the way to go.” Riggi said. “We’re not against wind, we’re against industrial wind near people.”
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