Worries that the Black Oak Wind Farm will decimate property values and cause public health and safety issues, among other concerns, spurred about 150 people to fill a public meeting Thursday night.
Enfield Town Board members held a discussion in the town’s elementary school gymnasium. Attendees voiced a range of opinions, some favoring and others criticizing, the planned wind farm on Black Oak Road in Enfield.
The project would install seven, 475-foot-tall, 2.3-megawatt turbines, according to Peter Bardaglio, president of Black Oak Wind Farm’s board of directors.
The meeting had a tense atmosphere throughout. Several people yelled comments out of turn, and others raised their voice into a microphone when it was their turn to speak.
Community Dispute Resolution Center mediator Jeff Shepardson moderated the discussion, while a Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office deputy stood at the back of the room. Representatives from Black Oak Wind Farm and industry experts also attended.
Shepardson focused the meeting on five topics: the wind farm’s impact on real estate values; potential for turbines to throw ice and setbacks from property; noise and health impacts; good neighbor agreements; and road impact and construction.
Shepardson passed a microphone to attendees and invited their comments.
Each topic was opened to public comment for about 10 minutes, and then the town board, Black Oak representatives and industry experts replied to comments and questions for up to 15 minutes.
Several speakers said they believed the project would harm their property values.
Black Oak Wind Farm Vice President Marguerite Wells said she had contacted local real estate agents to learn what impacts the wind farm could have on property values.
Most real estate studies show that wind farms have no impact on property values, but one five-year-old study showed that property values dropped 15 percent to 30 percent in northern New York state.
The local real estate agents wouldn’t give opinions on the wind farm’s possible property-value impacts, Wells said.
Ithaca Board of Realtors spokesman Brent Katzmann said it’s true that local agents aren’t able to estimate what impact the wind farm would have on Enfield land prices.
Property value is based on market conditions, property appraiser opinion and perceived value by the buyer and seller, he said.
“In the absence of any other similar environmental conditions in our marketplace, there’s really no data to draw on to be able to say that a wind turbine on this property will have this affect on an adjacent property,” Katzmann said.
Other speakers at the meeting voiced concern about wind turbines falling onto private property, turbine blades throwing ice, and noise pollution.
Tom Amirault, commercial manager at General Electric in Schenectady, said the wind turbines will be set back from buildings at 1.5 times the turbine’s height, plus 100 feet.
“The turbines are designed to be put in complicated wind environments, and they pass all of our tests,” Amirault said.
Setbacks from property lines will minimize dangers of turbines potentially falling, or blades throwing ice, said Frank Pavia, lawyer for the Town of Enfield.
Acoustic engineer Ryan Callahan said low-frequency sounds from the turbines are about 100 to 1,000 times lower than a car driving, waves on a beach or wind through the trees.
Black Oak’s turbines would be well within sound limits, and the blades will have the best available technology for keeping noise low, Callahan said.
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