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Residents discuss turbines’ impact on trails

Concerned residents say wind projects will impact some county investments.

During a county Planning Board meeting Tuesday in Jamestown, members of the Preservation Agricultural Land Serenity and Concerned Citizens of Cassadaga Wind Project voiced their issues with the planned placement of turbines near trails and lean-tos.

Concerns relate to the wind project underway in Arkwright and the proposed Cassadaga Wind Project, which would see the placement of 58 turbines in Arkwright, Charlotte and Cherry Creek. The Arkwright Summit Wind Farm is being led by EDP Renewables while the Cassadaga project is led by EverPower Wind Holdings Inc.

Mark Twichell, Fredonia resident and member of both citizen groups, told the planning board during the privilege of the floor that wind companies didn’t release a map showing the close proximity of some turbines to the Equestrian Trail system, located in Arkwright, Charlotte and Cherry Creek. He said they also didn’t show how close some will be to county-owned property adjacent to the Canadaway Creek Wildlife Management Area where two lean-tos sit.

“There’s going to be an array of nine turbines visible from the lean-tos,” Twichell said. “They’re going to be several hundred feet in front of the lean-tos.”

Joni Riggle, of Charlotte, was also in attendance. She said EDP Renewables knew what the plans were for the rest of the Equestrian Trail, yet they had the audacity to place eight to 10 turbines “on top of the trail.” Riggle also referenced the concerns of Mark Geise, former deputy director for the county Planning and Economic Development Department, during the early stages of the project over the placement of turbines near lean-tos and the trail.

“They were asked by Mark Geise don’t put turbines in line of sight of the lean-tos and the pond,” she said. “Like Mark alluded to, they will be in close proximity, they will be heard and they will be seen. That shows me (EDP Renewables) really doesn’t care.”

Doug Bowen, planning board chairman, said the board approved with conditions variances for the Arkwright Summit Wind Farm. Specifically, a variance was approved for the location of one turbine in relation to the distance of hiking and snowmobile trails. Other items included a variance for hours of construction and a height variance for the turbines.

Bowen read off minutes from a December 2015 meeting. During that time, Geise said the issue was vetted and the public and the appropriate boards or commissions were made aware of the matter. Geise said there would be impacts, but meetings with the Parks Commission and recreational users found no remaining concerns.

However, Geise said at the time he disagreed with the placement of one turbine that will be seen from the county lean-tos. The turbine met the distance requirement and didn’t need a variance, so the county couldn’t do much to relocate the tower.

In other board matters, members received a refresher on the capital project ranking process that’s set to begin Thursday, May 11. County department heads will present proposed projects to board members for the purposes of receiving capital funding.

Last year, the Planning Board reviewed 23 capital projects for the 2016 capital budget and an additional 46 projects for the 2017-21 capital plans. Projects were submitted by 10 county departments.