BATAVIA – Genesee County officials have been contacted by the developers of a planned 200-megawatt wind farm in Orleans County.
But the outreach has been advisory and not an expression of interest in an expanded siting range for turbines.
Heritage Wind Project Developer Ben Yazman contacted Genesee County Planning Department Director Felipe Oltramari before the new year. Oltramari doesn’t believe the project could be suitable in the landscape south of the proposed Barre siting zone, but his office will watch and be involved with environmental studies if asked.
“Of all (the county offices) we’ll probably be involved the most,” said Oltramari, who shared Yazman’s letter with the county’s highway, sheriff’s and economic development officials to sound out any concerns.
There haven’t been many, with officials assuming the location of the turbines will be outside their spheres of concern.
In an email Friday, County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens said he sees “no real impact to the airport based on distance” between the Saile Drive airstrip and Barre.
Oltramari said the Sheriff’s Office could connect public radio systems and microwave connections between Alabama to Medina to avoid any potential interference.
He also suspects issues related to the shadow flicker effect wouldn’t impact Genesee County, as those shadows would be north of the towers. But the turbines, expected to be in the 500 to 600-foot range, would be visible due to their size.
Yazman’s letter informed Genesee County that the project has been open for comments for three months. The company filed a Public Involvement Program plan to state in September.
He cited the project as benefiting lease-holding landowners, the town of Barre and Orleans County.
Oltramari said officials from Elba, Byron and Oakfield should be queued in as stakeholders, as Heritage Wind pursues approval through the state’s energy-system siting process. But he doubts that area would fit the project Yazman described.
“We have a lot of farm resources in the northern towns, but we have a lot of muck soil, and I’m pretty certain they can’t build on the muck,” Oltramari said. “The muck is very silty, it erodes in the wind, and these would be much higher than the wind breaks … it’s deep, organic, silty, and the ground water is near the surface. Anything built up there is usually on a little knoll or a back-filled area.”
Additionally, the muck soils are designated as a culturally significant area, requiring research into visual impacts, historic assets and natural areas.
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