HOPKINTON – It was standing room only in Hopkinton Town Hall on Thursday night during a special meeting about the North Ridge Wind Farm project, where public response was resoundingly in opposition.
Representatives from Avangrid Renewables, the company proposing the project, were bombarded with questions and comments for more than two hours from more than 100 Hopkinton, Parishville and surrounding area residents. Discussion included impacts the turbines may have on the community.
“There are people who don’t want to live near these; how are they going to be compensated for the loss of value of their property?” Jonathon Courtney, Parishville, asked the company representatives.
“We’ve looked at comprehensive studies of property values,” said Paul N. Copleman, communications manager for Avangrid Renewables “They show no consistent long-term impact of wind farms’ proximity to homes.”
Several attendees were concerned about the negative effect the turbines could have on their health and well-being.
“We have to look at the best available science,” Mr. Copleman said. “We depend on independent studies, peer-reviewed studies, and none of them indicate the turbines are going to have that effect.”
The company is still in the early stages of development and is hoping to install as many as 40 wind turbines up to 500 feet tall within the next few years.
Early-stage development mostly includes compiling data from studies, including wildlife surveys, archeological studies and other feasibility analyses.
Avangrid Renewables has already signed leases with 56 landowners – owning a total of 8,000 acres of land – for the purpose of completing these studies.
“I feel like this whole process is backwards. Before you came into our community and had our neighbors sign contracts, before you gave them money and promised them more money, you needed to engage our entire community in this discussion,” Sandra R. Maine, Parishville, said to the company representatives during the meeting. “The decision should come from the entire community, not from people who have dire need for finances.”
The company plans to continue their studies and expects to submit a formal application to the Article 10 siting board for the project by the end of summer 2017.
“Either way you go, it’s not going to please everybody. I think there are a lot more questions out there that need to be asked,” said county Legislator Richard A. Perkins, D-Parishville. “I hope everybody does their homework so you can get an answer for yourself. Use your head and get all of your facts before you make a decision because you can’t make one based on emotions.”
The next public meeting date and time have yet to be determined, but are expected to be either at the end of the year or in early 2017.
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