Somerset board adopts resolution against turbines; Officials say they’ll do everything they can to oppose project
With a vote of four in favor and one abstaining, the Somerset Town Board voted to adopt a resolution opposing the proposed wind turbine project in hopes it’ll carry their voice in Albany.
The proposed resolution states that the Somerset Town Board does formally oppose the Apex Clean Energy Lighthouse Wind LLC Project within the town’s borders. It also says town officials will “endeavor through all means to make certain that the residents of the town of Somerset will be heard loudly and clearly despite the revised and flawed Article X law.”
Article X permits large-scale energy generation facilities through a seven-member siting board, which is composed of five state-appointed members and two representatives of the affected community.
The law states that the siting board must take in consideration a local law that is on the books for a certain town. However, the board can deem the law or part of it as unreasonably burdensome to the developer which would ultimately allow them to overrule the local law.
“The board captures the public’s intention and serves as a voice for the people,” Supervisor Daniel Engert said. “We worked to be absolutely correct on where the community wanted to be on the issue and through the survey as well as door-to-door visits the board has decided to oppose the project.”
The resolution will be sent to members of the state legislature, the commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the commissioner of the state Department of Health, the chairperson of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the commissioner of state Economic Development and Niagara County IDA.
Also receiving the resolution will be the chairmen of the Niagara and Orleans county legislatures, the Yates Town Board, the Barker Village Board and the Lyndonville Village Board.
Somerset officials hope the resolution will demonstrate to the siting board the will of the community. They said the resolution was based upon resident concerns voiced during public and private meetings, in letters and emails addressed to the board members.
In addition, the survey which showed an overwhelming majority of town residents opposing the Lighthouse Wind LLC project resulted in the decision to propose a resolution.
Apex Clean Energy is continuing on with the beginning stages of development, however.
Representative Taylor Quarells addressed the board and public, informing them that a preliminary scoping study, the last step in the Article X process, will be completed late summer for review.
“Although Article X is not perfect,” Quarells said. “It is thorough.”
In addition, Apex Clean Energy is working to make themselves more available to the public by adding a number of their team staff to the Barker office, officials said, in order meet with concerned residents.
As the fight continues, the Commercial Wind Energy Local Law Ad Hoc Advisory Review Committee will continue to review and make suggestions to the town board in order to help address the concerns of the residents.
That 14-resident committee, which is being assembled now from representatives of town and village government, the Barker school district, the community, Save Ontario Shores Inc. and Apex Clean Energy, will begin meeting July 24.
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