VILLENOVA – Though officials and lawyers alike were very careful this week in Villenova, saying a vote to accept the final environmental impact statement for the Ball Hill Wind Energy Project would not actually green-light any turbine construction, it did effectively move the project one step further.
Representatives from Renewable Energy Systems were present at the special meeting, along with the town’s leaders and Dan Spitzer, the lawyer representing the towns of Villenova and Hanover, where the proposed project would take place.
Villenova Town Supervisor Richard Ardillo explained to the meeting attendees and to the board members that the meeting was called for one reason: to vote on whether or not to accept the final environmental impact statement in its current form. After that, the board would move into executive session to discuss the host community agreement with Spitzer.
Despite this, council member Angelo Graziano had questions, and, he said, he didn’t want to vote until he got some answers.
“I’ve been asking for a long time to get the entire township involved,” said Graziano, “… they don’t see my way of doing it, and I have some issues on the setbacks (of the wind towers) and also the sound decibels of the matter. I got to looking around, and I got onto the website of the Department of Public Service.”
Graziano said that as he understood it, the town needed a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity if the project was going to operate over 80 megawatts.
“Therefore, you needed this certificate,” he said, because the project would operate at 100 megawatts in its current form.
Spitzer attempted to clear up any confusion, saying that the Public Service Commission had nothing to do with the project at this stage. Right now, the town of Villenova, as lead agency, is in control of progress and decisions regarding the seeker process. No other agency can act until Villenova has completed that process.
Graziano also had questions about local taxes, and how much town taxes would go down as a result of the host community agreement. Spitzer said that that would be up to the town.
Graziano then brought up health concerns, like the often-mentioned idea of wind turbine syndrome. Spitzer explained again that several professional medical studies have concluded that wind turbine syndrome does not exist as rumors have purported. It was also pointed out that farm tractors are louder than the wind turbines will be.
Spitzer said he would be happy to answer any community member’s questions to the best of his ability, and that people are welcome to call him. He also endeavored to make it clear that this project definitely will, in myriad ways, change the towns of Villenova and Hanover.
“You’re talking about a group of 50-story buildings,” he said. “That’s going to change your community for a generation at least. No one has ever suggested that it wouldn’t. No one’s ever hid the impacts; no one’s ever said these things (wind towers) are silent. All of those things have all been on the table and in public documents from day one. So there are certainly no secrets here.”
When the resolution to accept the FEIS came to a vote, it was approved. Graziano was the only nay vote, and council member Sarah LoManto abstained, since she is a property owner will benefit monetarily if the project goes through.
With this step, the FEIS will now be available for public review.
If residents are interested in reading more about the project, documents are available at http://www.ballhillwind.com/.
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