Hungry for recycled taxpayer money funneled into the so-called “green” energy agenda by state and federal subsidies, Apex (not so) Clean Energy LLC apparently brought in an invasion of union workers to chastise the Somerset Town Board at its own hearing on Feb. 1. The reason? Somerset is trying to amend its own local zoning law.
As a Somerset resident and farm owner, I resent the intrusion of union workers who do not live in Somerset. It would appear that Apex paraded them into our public hearing to protest changes in the rules for siting wind turbines – in our town.
Careless siting of Apex’s proposed industrial wind turbine facility would effectively make my town unfit for habitation by people, and irreversibly damage the ambient quiet countryside that I moved here to enjoy.
Somerset residents pay town taxes and therefore we have the right to a say in our own town government.
The Somerset Town Board was very accommodating to the influx of iron workers apparently invited to our public hearing by the wind corporation. One construction worker said Apex had contacted many local construction companies about potential jobs. Actually, the reality is that in many wind projects, out-of-state construction crews are brought in by the wind company. In February of 2015, in Vermillion, Illinois, not only did Apex bring in out-of-state contractors in to construct its wind project, the leaseholders there ended up with mechanic’s liens on their land, as Apex did not pay the contractors at that time.
With Apex’s reputation in other wind projects prompting thoughts of snake oil salesmen, the Town of Somerset is right to do its due diligence to protect the natural environment, residents’ health, safety, welfare and property values, and the town’s own comprehensive plan.
An unbiased ad hoc committee was drafted to write a new zoning law. It included two Apex representatives and citizens on both sides of the issue. Somerset tried to come up with a protective plan for the town, suited to its character and its people. The meetings, which took place over a six-month period, were open to the public. The new 54-page law can be found on Somerset’s website.
The first in a long list of town findings states: “Short-sighted planning has often resulted in creation of problem industries that adversely affect public health and quality of life. Examples are found in Somerset, as well as in many other areas of Western New York. Wind energy facilities are not exempt from these findings.”
We will not sacrifice our homes, farms, and natural environment for a few pieces of silver. We have seen repeated lawsuits filed over other wind turbine facilities because of negative impacts, such as noise, that drive people out of their homes.
We are thankful that the Somerset Town Board is striving to preserve the valuable Lake Ontario natural migratory flyways and environment, along with our property values. Once destroyed by slipshod placement of an industrial wind turbine facility, any attempt to rectify the situation is impossible, forever too-little, too-late.
The biggest insult is that out-of-state Apex LLC tried to intimidate the Somerset Town Board with a veiled suggestion of a lawsuit. The company’s attempt to intimidate residents at the public hearing went beyond the pale when representatives suggested that this revamped town zoning law would not hold up in court.
Thank you, Somerset Town Board, for your patience and loyalty to your citizenry.
I lived through a carelessly sited wind project in Wyoming County. Four-hundred-fifty-foot turbines sited too close to existing homes and businesses resulted in destruction of the community’s rural character and quality of life, and caused many other negative effects that are mentioned in the findings behind Somerset’s amended local law. The damage done to relationships between family members, between lifelong friends and neighbors, cannot be mitigated. The town I left is divided forever.
I support Somerset’s due diligence in the amending of local law and agree wholeheartedly with this finding: “Local communities have, through site plan approval, regulation, and careful planning, been primary protectors of their citizenry.”
Cathi Orr is a Somerset resident and self-described Wyoming County wind refugee.
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