CANTON – Citizens opposed to a proposed wind farm in the towns of Hopkinton and Parishville have turned to the St. Lawrence County Legislature for help in blocking the controversial project.
Opponents told county lawmakers Monday night that the North Ridge Wind Farm project proposed by Avangrid Renewables is dividing the two communities as citizens take sides on the issue.
The project involves construction of 40 wind turbines up to 500 feet tall. The company has reportedly signed lease agreements with about 54 property owners.
“This one drive by this high-powered company is driving our community apart. It’s friend against friend, family against family and against relatives and neighbors because of the agreements that are being signed secretively with the landowner,” said Gary Snell, chairman of Concerned Citizens of Rural Preservation.
“Please keep your ears and eyes open where we are headed. We ask for any support you can give us,” he said.
Opponents are concerned a wind farm would decrease property values, have negative impacts on farming, and reduce property tax collections due to payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements the company may reach.
They also voiced concerns about health and safety. Some Amish families are also opposed.
“This company wants to come in and negotiate a PILOT agreement with the school board and the town boards of Parishville and Hopkinton. This company is trying to avoid taxes. They don’t want to be assessed and they don’t want to be taxed. Why? Because they can pay approximately 10 to 20 percent as opposed to being assessed and paying the taxes on their property like you and I do,” he said.
Lucia D. Dailey, Parishville, also voiced her opinion on what she believes a wind farm would have on the area’s rural landscape. She distributed packets of information to legislators.
“I was not born here. I worked hard to get here and I would like to stay here. Giant, 500-foot pinwheels swirling over your head is not what I consider a wonderful, rural existence,” she said.
Referring to the impact she said existing wind farm projects have had in Lowville in Lewis County and Chategauay in Franklin County, she predicted that construction of the proposed wind farm will cause some homeowners to leave and prevent others from moving in.
“People are driven out of their homes by the turbines. In Lowville, we had a young man tell us that when they first came they said 34 turbines and now his home is surrounded by 196 wind turbines,” Ms. Dailey told legislators. “This has happened in other places as close as Chateaugay where the police have to break up family fights on Christmas Day over wind turbines. Even if you don’t feel it’s close to home, it does have a huge effect on your county. We all need to stay here and work here and this will drive people out.”
Luke Martin said he’s been approached by the company about leasing his land, but has not received answers about whether his neighbors would receive any compensation if he does so. He said he believes some landowners are signing the leases without reading them carefully because they need money to pay their property taxes.
“There’s a lot of people in our town who are farming and a couple thousand dollars makes the difference. It helps to pay the taxes,” he said. “I think that’s why people are signing up. They need the money, but I’m not sure in the end they’re going to have that much money.”
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