HENDERSON HARBOR – Many Henderson residents told developers of the Galloo Island Wind Farm on Wednesday night that they don’t support the project because the view of 575-foot-tall turbines would cause lots of pain and no gain in tax benefits.
During an informational open house at the fire hall, people had a glimpse of a three-dimensional model that illustrated what the 31-turbine wind farm proposed by Hudson Energy, Albany, would look like from the shore about 6 miles away. They asked representatives questions about the project and read informational displays during the meeting, but no formal presentation was made. Hudson was required to hold the meeting as part of the state-led Article 10 review for its 102.3-megawatt project, which it estimated would produce energy to power more than 35,000 homes.
Visual models of turbines were especially interesting to residents who live along the waterfront in the town of Henderson, who fear turbines will scar the natural beauty of Lake Ontario and decrease property values. The island’s closest mainland access is about 6 miles away at Stony Point in Henderson, but it is part of the town of Hounsfield. Henderson, as a result, wouldn’t receive any property tax benefits from the wind farm, which calls for a 30-mile underwater transmission route to a National Grid substation in the town of Oswego about 1,000 feet from the shore.
Some residents expressed skepticism when they looked at models depicting how the turbines would appear roughly 6 miles away from the shore of Point Peninsula in the town of Lyme and 12 miles from Sackets Harbor. They thought the turbines would appear larger from that distance. The developers, meanwhile, said that models were developed using ideal weather conditions and that turbines would be even less visible during cloudy days.
Even so, many Henderson residents said they believe the view of turbines from their waterfront homes would be a major nuisance. Seasonal residents Christopher P. and Rose L. Cirilo own a waterfront home on Lower Hovey Tract Road about 6 miles from the island. They drove from their New Hartford home to attend the meeting.
“The turbines are going to be facing right at us when you’re looking at the water. Our house is worth about $250,000, and I bet it would go down to $200,000,” Mr. Cirilo said, adding that blinking red lights at night would also be a nuisance.
Gary M. Puccia, who lives year-round on Hovey Road near the Cirilos, presented a photo he took on his cellphone from his waterfront home that shows turbines about 18 miles away on Wolfe Island, Ontario. He said his quality of life would suffer if the Galloo Island project materializes, contending he’d no longer be able to enjoy sunsets.
“Henderson has the best sunsets in the world, but the natural beauty would be gone with the blinking lights,” he said. “People will be able to see turbines at least 15 miles away.”
Town resident Ronald W. Peterson, however, said he supports the wind project and does not believe it would harm property values. “We need more renewables so we aren’t dependent on carbon-based power with more pollution,” he said. “I would be able to see the turbines from my house, but you get used to looking at them.”
Larry M. Les Chander, meanwhile, said in a discussion with Mr. Peterson that he doesn’t support wind projects because of the high cost, pointing out that projects need to be subsidized by state and federal funding. “If turbines produced cheap power I would be for them, but I’d rather spend my tax dollars somewhere else,” he said.
A tax break from the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency will be needed for the project to materialize, said William M. Moore, the principal of Hudson Energy who is widely known in the region for developing the Maple Ridge Wind Farm project in Lewis County. The 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement sought by the developer would have to be approved by Jefferson County, the town of Hounsfield and the Sackets Harbor Central School District.
“No project will be built without a PILOT,” he said, adding that he is hopeful people will be receptive to the project after learning more about it. He said several Henderson residents were surprised at the model depicting how turbines would look from the shore. He claimed they look “like a thumbnail on the horizon.”
Mr. Moore said it is unfortunate that Henderson would not receive tax benefits from the project, contending that because of its proximity, “the town deserves to get some of the benefit of the project. We should consider coming up with a way to address the economic inequity.”
Neil T. Habig, a developer for Hudson Energy, said that while he understands the majority of county legislators might now be opposed to the project, he is hopeful they could change their minds after learning more about it.
He said it is possible Hudson Energy could decide to sell the project to another developer during the multiyear Article 10 permitting process. “We’ve had multiple discussions with other developers that have expressed interest. We could decide to partner with someone or to sell it to them in a year,” he said, declining to provide further details.
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