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Parishville town council members decide not to impose moratorium on wind energy development

PARISHVILLE – Following heated debate and much discussion, Town Council members decided not to move forward with a one-year moratorium on the wind energy development proposed by Avangrid Renewables during a special meeting Friday night.

Approximately 60 people attended the special meeting. All of the people who spoke during the session were opposed to the North Ridge Wind Farm project and were in support of moving forward with a one-year moratorium.

Michael Lawrence, supervisor of the town of Brandon, was present at the special Town Board meeting. Mr. Lawrence shared his 17 years of experience as a town supervisor, and dealing with wind developers who approached the town in 2007. He urged the council members to go forward with a moratorium.

“It’s kind of a no-brainer. It’s not that you’re for or against to impose the moratorium – it gives you study time. These wind operations, these projects, are much like other nasty little projects like a dump or a landfill being put near people that don’t want it there,” Mr. Lawrence said.

“We did not opt for wind turbines; we opted against them. Regardless of what happens, the part that I don’t like … is it separated people in our community. Whether you go for the wind turbines or you don’t, you’re not going to make everybody happy and it causes separation. It causes the community to never again affiliate and associate like they did before. That’s the devastating effect it’s had on our community.”

Mr. Lawrence said the town of Brandon imposed a one-year moratorium on wind energy development in 2007 and then drafted a wind law limiting turbine height to 90 feet.

“The moratorium we put in place for a year gave us the opportunity to do more studies and get more information,” Mr. Lawrence said.

A few of the attendees, all residents of the area Avangrid Renewables is targeting, said they would move to a different town if the wind company goes forward with constructing up to 40 wind turbines, as it has proposed.

“I live on property that the company desperately wants to install an underground collection system. Northern New York has become the repository for anything that no one else wants – from the prisons to the mental facilities and now the wind farms,” said Ellen S. White, Parishville. “Windmills render property unmarketable, therefore the wind companies have nowhere to go except up north where they think we are nothing but a bunch of dumb hicks and farmers desperate for money.”

“If the windmills come to town, I will have to move,” Ms. White added.

According to Town Supervisor Rodney G. Votra, a moratorium would be “out of order” because Avangrid Renewables is still in the early stages of development. According to Mr. Votra, Avangrid Renewables will not be able to build a wind farm with the current law that both Parishville and Hopkinton have in place.

“There’s no urgency for time here,” Mr. Votra said.

Parishville Councilwoman Kari Tremper argued imposing a moratorium would be a waste of resources and time, and made the motion to not impose a moratorium “at this time.”

“There’s no reason for us to do a moratorium because Avangrid has to follow what we’re going to put in place because we started the ball rolling,” Ms. Tremper said. “And so I’m not necessarily against the moratorium but it’s a waste of our resources when they’re going to have to follow our law anyway. We’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.”

Also present was St. Lawrence County Legislator Rick Perkins, D-Parishville, who agreed with the council members.

“I think you guys are doing the right thing because I think it will be a waste of your resources. (Avangrid Renewables) will still be able to continue what they’re doing – it’s not going to affect anything for their time frame.”