CANTON – Opposition to a proposed wind farm in the towns of Hopkinton and Parishville has prompted St. Lawrence County Legislature to create an ad-hoc wind committee.
Headed by legislator Rick Perkins, D-Parishville, the committee met for the first time Thursday and has started to gather feedback from neighboring counties that have dealt with similar projects.
“Our role is to collect the information and present it to the full board. There’s a lot of information going out both ways,” Mr. Perkins said. “Right now, I’m very neutral. I’m for green power, but I can’t do it at the expense of citizens’ health and welfare.”
A public meeting regarding the wind project is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Parishville Town Hall. Larry Lorusso, a professional photographer, will present a slide show about Hoosac Wind Farm, Mass.
Mr. Lorusso is also scheduled to give a presentation at the county Legislature’s Services Committee meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday at the county courthouse.
The proposed North Ridge Wind Farm has created a rift among citizens in Parishville and Hopkinton.
“It is contentious and it seems to be causing negative feelings in the community,” Mr. Perkins said. The developer, Avangrid Renewables, has reached agreements with numerous landowners who are supposed to receive payments in exchange for allowing wind turbines on their property. Avangrid is a subsidiary of Iberdrola, an energy company based in Spain.
Citizens opposed to the proposed North Ridge farm have relayed their concerns at county meetings including the potential for decreased property values, negative impact on farming and possible reduction of property taxes for the municipalities and school district. Vocal opponents include Gary Snell, chairman of Concerned Citizens of Rural Preservation and Lucia D. Dailey, Parishville.
They also voiced concerns about health and safety including noise associated with wind farms.
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.
County Vice Chairman Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, said he has contacted officials from Jefferson and Lewis counties to learn how they handled proposed wind projects, including payment-in-lieu of tax agreements.
“I wanted to get a better feel for how they’ve handled problems and situations that could arise from wind farms,” Mr. Lightfoot said. “As this goes forward, we won’t be blind sided down the road.”
Mr. Lightfoot said the committee may also contact officials from Franklin and Clinton counties about their experiences. Other committee members include legislators Donald J. Hooper, R-Ogdensburg and Chad E. Colbert, R-Potsdam.
“We want to get as much information about these things and be prepared for what’s coming forward,” he said.
At some point, a representative from the company is expected to make a presentation to the Legislature, he said.
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