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All property owners are affected by wind farm lease deals

I am writing in response to recent comments by Ms. Donna Bane in response to Save Ontario Shores’ concerns about erection of a meteorological tower if a special use permit was approved by the Yates Town Board. In a letter she professed her support for the siting of industrial wind turbines in our community.

Ms. Bane pointed out her right, as a resident and landowner, to do what she wanted with her property. Actually, that is not true. We have zoning laws in place to help protect neighbors and communities from landowners doing anything they want. The effect on and rights of others must also be respected. I only hope zoning laws will help protect us all from the overwhelming negative consequences this project by Apex would bring.

The comparison to birds killed by cars is ridiculous. Of course, birds are killed by cars. But luckily, cars aren’t 60 stories high and proposed in the middle of one of the largest migratory flyways in the country, or the number killed would be significantly higher. In fact, the American Bird Conservancy has stated that while they are concerned about all threats, they are focusing on wind power because it’s “a large-scale, newly developing threat to birds” especially during migration.

The one thing we can agree on is that alternative forms of energy need to be explored. Unfortunately wind energy, especially in this location, is not the answer. It is too unreliable; complete backup is required for times of no wind or low wind and therefore it will not replace any present energy sources. In addition, as reported in Forbes this past October, U.S. Energy Administration data shows that electricity rates have soared in states generating the most wind power.

Ms. Bane mentions taxes and being a taxpayer quite a bit in her letter but any potential tax savings will be off-set by the lowered assessments of surrounding properties. Who will have to make up for those decreased taxes? The town taxpayers that she professes to be concerned about?

In short, the only ones profiting financially from this project would be Apex and the few landowners who sign leases.

The most disturbing part of her comments, however, is her very clear disdain for seasonal residents. I’d like to remind her, and the town board, that those seasonal residents, whether they are registered to vote here or not, pay substantial taxes supporting our community. Certainly their taxes are not seasonal; they have every right to have their voices heard. We all know that taxation without representation has a poor history in our country!

In addition, while Ms. Bane mentioned that her tillable land property assessment doubled in 2014, she conveniently neglected to mention that her agriculture exemption also increased significantly. In fact, the property she owns with her home on it is assessed at $206,000 but has an agriculture exemption of $57,600, which results in her paying town taxes on an assessment of $148,400. With a STAR exemption of $65,300 added in, she only pays taxes on an assessment of $83,100 for school taxes.

Contrast that with a typical property on Firelane 23 assessed at $180,000. Guess how much they are taxed on? That’s right, the entire $180,000, despite only seasonal services. Yet they are property owners who should not be allowed to have a voice?

Ms. Bane may consider me an outsider “intimidating some land owners with negativity” – I’ve only been here one year. I will admit to being a newcomer but certainly not an outsider. In fact, I believe that I, after only one year as a Yates resident and landowner, am the neighbor you want. I can promise my neighbors that I will never profit at their expense. I will not let anyone build huge industrial turbines (or any other structure, for that matter) that will negatively affect their environment, wildlife, health, quality of life and property values.

Donna Riggi writes from Lyndonville.