Tompkins County lawmakers heard a mix of viewpoints about safety of Enfield’s proposed Black Oak Wind Farm before voting to support the project on Friday night.
The proposed wind farm has been mired in controversy after people who live near the site have raised concerns that setbacks would allow turbines too close to their homes.
The Tompkins County committee voted unanimously on a resolution supporting timely development of the wind farm. Lawmaker Dooley Kiefer, D-Cayuga Heights, recused herself from the vote because she is an investor in the wind farm.
The resolution will not fast-track any regulatory approvals that the wind farm needs to receive to re-site a turbine, but it does allow Tompkins County to show that it supports the project.
On Tuesday, the full Tompkins County Legislature is scheduled to consider the resolution for final approval.
Black Oak Wind Farm Project Manager Marguerite Wells said earlier this month that the setbacks comply with local laws and manufacturer recommendations.
The project’s seven, 483-foot-tall, 2.3-megawatt turbines would be placed no closer than 990 feet from buildings and 192 feet from property lines of non-participating lands, Wells said earlier this month.
About a dozen people spoke at the county’s Planning, Economic Development, Energy, and Environmental Quality Committee.
Enfield resident Marcus Gingerich said he lives just down the road from the proposed wind farm, and he’s very concerned for the health and safety of his wife and four home-schooled children.
“I have looked intensively into this over the past couple of months, and it’s very concerning to me,” he said. Setbacks between turbines and residences are typically much farther than 990 feet and other wind farms in the U.S. are moving to increase setbacks, Gingerich told the lawmakers.
“I respectfully ask that you reconsider passing this resolution at this point because I think it’s a little premature,” he said.
Peter Bardaglio, president of Black Oak Wind Farm’s board of directors, said the wind farm conducted a three-year environmental impact statement study that cost $400,000.
“We were very careful to make sure that there are no health and safety impacts from the farm,” he said.
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