CHARLOTTE – It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … another wind farm coming to Chautauqua County?
At a recent Charlotte Town Board meeting, resident Joni Riggle shared that she felt blindsided by the news that Charlotte would be following in Arkwright’s and Cherry Creek’s steps by working toward approval to build a wind farm. While she admits to it not being an “intentional blindsiding,” it doesn’t change the fact that that’s how she feels about it, and now she thinks it may be too late to share her grave concerns regarding the matter.
“Wind turbines sound like these innocuous, you know, lovely things but not in a small, residential community. They’ve left a trail of destruction, heartache, (and they) ruin towns, and I see why. If they really cared about the residents, they wouldn’t sneak in and have you sign a confidentiality contract so that you can’t tell your neighbor they’re about to ruin your property, cause you so much stress from the noise, the strobe, the shadow flickering … and the health effects. All around the world, there’s a mass movement to stop it, and I think you’ve been duped,” said Riggle.
Riggle then went on in detail about her extensive research, highlighting the health problems allegedly caused by local wind farms, the difficulty people have in their daily lives because of them and the number of complaints people in other areas have had about them in general.
According to Riggle, Shirley Wind, a wind farm in Glenmore, Wisconsin had studies done by independent researchers, acoustical engineers and even by the wind company, and found that the turbine noise, even at 7,000 feet away, made people abandon their homes. The study found sound pressure levels that were observed to routinely exceed 95 decibels, periodically 100 decibels, which made it so that residents could not or did not want to stay in their homes.
“Are they all nutcases? Are they making this stuff up? They built their houses. They love their homes, (but) they had to leave their homes,” Riggle said. “The four investigating firms concluded that enough evidence was found to classify LFN, low frequency noises, as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the industry.”
Riggle quoted an unnamed resident, “The noise, flashing lights, interrupted TV reception, strobe effect, the possibility of stray voltage has created a level of stress in this community that we’ve never had … The only people that think they are so great and wonderful are those who really don’t know and live by them.”
Riggle’s husband Earl then had a chance to speak, and simply said that he was worried for his son’s seizure disorder and his wife’s vertigo. “I really think that that’s going to be a real problem. They’re going to be close to people’s houses. There’s going to be certain people who are not going to be able to stand it and they’re going to have to move.”
Then Town Supervisor Kenneth Bochmann spoke, and addressed the “blindsided feeling” Riggle had, stating that there have been multiple notices regarding meetings about the wind farm posted at the library and at the post office. Riggle said that she doesn’t go to the post office, prompting Bochmann to simply say that the town did what they were required to do.
He then went on to describe Article X, a relatively new state law that states, “The Power NY Act of 2011 established a process for the siting of electric generating facilities and re-powering projects. As part of the process, a multi-agency Siting Board is charged with streamlining the permitting process for power plants of 25 megawatts (MW) or greater. The Power NY Act also encourages investments in clean power plants and affords communities more opportunities to participate in the siting process.”
Essentially, according to Bochmann, Article X is involved in this new wind farm process. The wind farm cannot be approved by the state until all the boxes are checked in terms of how the farm affects an area visually, acoustically, audibly, medically, etc. but until then, the wind farm is still only in its planning stages, and it could take up to a year for the Article X study to be finished and for the application to be approved or denied.
In terms of the wind farm itself, there’s a map that cannot be released until the application is submitted. However, there are 52 proposed wind turbines. Approximately 25 will be in the town of Charlotte, one in Arkwright and the balance in Cherry Creek. This arrangement is, according to Bochmann, based on megawatts.
Despite the promising evaluations mandated by Article X, Riggle remains unconvinced.
“This is so frightening. I don’t want to be strobed. I don’t want to be invaded by pulsating sounds, vertigo We are human receptors for noise, for infrasound, for stray voltage, shadow flicker (and) vibration,” Riggle said.
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