Tompkins lawmakers heard support for the Black Oak Wind Farm from the majority of a standing-room-only crowd Thursday night.
But people who said they live near the proposed Enfield wind farm urged caution and further study and warned of health impacts from the facility.
Tompkins County lawmakers unanimously voted to support the wind farm’s timely development. Lawmaker Dooley Kiefer, D-Cayuga Heights, recused herself because she is an investor in the project.
The resolution will not fast-track any regulatory approvals that the wind farm needs to re-site parts of the facility, but it does allow Tompkins County to show its support for the project.
Black Oak’s seven, 483-foot-tall, 2.3-megawatt turbines would generate about $133,000 in annual tax revenue during the next 15 years, according to Peter Bardaglio, president of Black Oak Wind Farm’s board of directors.
The wind farm conducted a three-year environmental impact statement study that cost $400,000, Bardaglio said.
About 50 people attended the meeting, and a majority of speakers voiced support for the proposed Enfield wind farm.
About 30 people from the audience spoke during a public comment portion of the meeting.
The majority of speakers voiced support for the project, and several proponents also identified as Black Oak investors, though most added that they did not expect to make much, if any, money from the project any time soon.
Wayles Browne, of Collegetown, said he was an investor in the wind farm, and he chose to put money into the project to see community-owned renewable energy production in Tompkins County.
Browne encouraged lawmakers to support the wind farm.
“The wind comes right to us, we don’t have to drag it in on the railroad or shove it through pipes or store it in leaky caverns,” he added.
Mimi Meheffy, of Enfield, identified as an environmentalist who lives in an off-grid home.
Meheffy added that she’s not “anti-wind,” but she said that putting seven, 483-foot-tall industrial wind turbines in a rural neighborhood is not the answer to climate change.
“The health and safety issues at this time are too numerous to go in to, but do your homework – they’re real, they’re on the Internet,” she said.
Robert Tesori, of Enfield, said a turbine will be sited 925 feet from his home. The town’s law is inadequate for protecting residents from possible dangers associated with the wind farm, he added.
“I’m not pro; I’m not anti,” Tesori added. “We’re trying to find something safe for everybody involved.”
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 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.
Tompkins County Environmental Management Council chairman Brian Eden said a majority of studies find no health effects from wind farms.
“If you really want to look at this you should look at the studies, and not the ones that are found on the fossil fuel industry websites, but other sites that are not affiliated with those organizations that have an interest in making people afraid of these facilities,” Eden said.
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