Aug. 25 was a day of warring factions and unfortunate decisions.
On that day, over 200 people braved a torrential downpour at Golden Hill State Park, to participate in Save Ontario Shores’ rally in opposition to the Lighthouse Wind industrial wind turbine project proposed by Apex Clean Energy. As many know, this project was originally targeted to place as many as 70 industrial wind turbines, at a potential height of 720 feet along a minimum of 24 square miles in Somerset and Yates. The ground zero destruction field of this project, originally only north of Route 18 in the two towns, now extends south to the boundaries of Ridgeway and Hartland. As such and unfortunately, “ground zero” has grown to include the complete study area of the project.
While the constituency was braving the downpour to rally against Apex-driven destruction, the Orleans County Planning Board was meeting to consider Apex’s request for a variance from the Town of Yates’ moratorium on wind development.
Apex’s complete lack of respect for home rule, and with support from Governor Cuomo, drove its decision to petition the county planning board to pressure Yates into allowing a meteorological tower. The proposed tower location is near the intersection of West Yates Center and County Line roads – again, a significant distance south of Route 18.
It is important to note that the Orleans County Planning Board’s meeting agenda that day included zoning referrals from the towns of Gaines and Kendall, which were each pursuing a six-month moratorium on construction of industrial solar energy generation facilities in all zoning districts. The planning board approved both referrals by unanimous votes. Then it heard Apex’s request for a variance to erect a met tower in an agricultural/residential district – and unanimously recommended Apex be granted the variance.
This was an unfortunate decision. As a matter of record, the Orleans County Planning Board previously – and unanimously – approved the amended Yates town law that appropriately protects the constituency against inappropriate siting of industrial wind turbine projects. This same board also previously – and unanimously – approved Yates’ moratorium on wind development. Now they have gone back on their word, by recommending a variance for Apex.
Why did the Orleans County Planning Board waffle on its original moratorium position? It is a question for the ages. Why did the board hang Yates out to dry? Another question for the ages.
What is not in question is the level of commitment of the Yates voters in their opposition to Apex’s proposal to destroy Yates. Now that the voters understand that the county planning board will not support the town when the going gets tough, we are confident that our own Yates town board will support and protect the constituency as the battle heats up.
We are calling on the Yates town board to reject Apex’s moratorium variance request. The board has proved unwavering in its support of the constituency’s opposition to Lighthouse Wind and we thankfully expect nothing less moving forward.
We are happy that the Orleans County Planning Board decision is not binding on the Yates town board – and relieved that the county planning board is not directly representing the constituents of Yates.
The beauty of our American way of life is that we, the constituency, speak at election time. We will remember those who did not support us, whether elected or appointed.
In closing, be warned. All Somerset and Yates residents with homes and property south of Route 18 now have a target on their backs. In fact, if they have their way, Apex will turn Niagara and Orleans counties into one massive industrial wind turbine field, completely transforming our homeland into some kind of “land of the giants” landscape.
Apex’s contention of high paying jobs (10 maximum), lower taxes (false, as there will be no Payment In Lieu Of Taxes program within the towns) and improved economy (no one will want to live in Somerset or Yates, hence, no economy) is misleading at best, and at worst a premeditated lie. You choose.
Anne Smith is a Lyndonville resident.