DEER RIVER – Denmark town officials are continuing their lengthy review of a five-year-old, 80-megawatt wind farm project here, one of few remaining that predate a state-led permitting process.
Town representatives – particularly engineer Kris D. Dimmick of Bernier, Carr & Associates, Watertown – spent an hour and a half Thursday reviewing any issues with plans for the Copenhagen Wind Farm and requesting additional information from developers.
“That’s your homework,” town Planning Board Chairman Kevin Gaines told Christopher Smith from Fisher Associates, at the end of the special meeting. The Rochester firm is doing design work on the project.
With the board’s next regular meeting coming up on Tuesday, Mr. Smith said he would try to compile as much of the requested information as possible within the next few days.
The Copenhagen Wind Farm, being developed by OwnEnergy Inc., Brooklyn, with local partner Jerry B. Wichelns, would feature 40, 2-megawatt turbines and an overhead power line running through the towns of Champion and Rutland.
OwnEnergy – which was bought out last August by EDP Renewable Energy of San Diego, Calif. – had proposed a 47-tower project but about a year ago switched that to 40 turbines with higher outputs. Company officials have said the maximum blade height would be around 498 feet; in comparison, the 1.65-megawatt turbines used at the nearby 195-tower Maple Ridge Wind Farm have a maximum height of around 400 feet.
Among the information requested by the town Thursday were a table showing distances from the nearest roads and buildings for each turbine, any state or federal permits received, more specifics on where power lines would cross roads and waterways like the Deer River and Stony Creek and proposed truck routes, particularly for gravel and concrete.
Denmark Highway Superintendent Patrick F. Mahar, also a town Planning Board member, said the wind developer has shown some potential routes for turbines to be delivered to the project site but hasn’t identified which town roads would be impacted by heavy trucks carrying loads of base material.
“That’s my biggest concern,” he said.
A couple of Town Board members in attendance said they are still waiting to see a road agreement to ensure that any damage to town roads is indemnified.
“It’s been a very frustrating process,” Mr. Mahar said.
Mr. Dimmick also pointed out that the project site plan actually includes 42 tower sites.
Mr. Smith said that the last two are alternate sites included in case of unforeseen circumstances and “there’s no intent to build more than 40.”
The Rochester engineer said he believes that wetlands permits needed for the project, particularly along a planned temporary road between Route 12 and Doran Road to bypass the village of Copenhagen, will soon be forthcoming from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Mr. Dimmick also asked about underground power lines proposed to go straight through some farmers’ fields, even though the state Department of Agriculture and Markets has expressed a preference that they follow farm roads.
Mr. Smith said he believes that issue “has gone through the ringer with Ag and Markets” and that it is ultimately up to the landowner, noting that the lines will be buried deep enough to farm over.
On agricultural land, trenches for lines are to be 2 feet wide and 4 feet deep, while those on nonfarmland would only be three feet deep, Mr. Wichelns said.
The wind company will compensate landowners for reseeding and trees removed, with maple producers to be reimbursed for lost sugar maple trees based on the number of taps, he said.
Town Attorney Mark G. Gebo also suggested that the wind company provide a formal policy for dealing with any noise complaints from residents, including some requirement for mitigation if the noise exceeds limits in town zoning law.
The state Article X permitting process, which allows the state Public Service Commission to make decisions about where wind and other power projects are sited, was enacted in 2011. However, it didn’t take effect until after the Copenhagen Wind Farm was proposed, leaving review of this project squarely in the town’s hands.
Despite little public opposition, town officials indicated they want to ensure a complete and thorough review before giving final approval to the project.
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