HOPKINTON – In a few years, wind turbines may be installed south of State Route 72 in the town of Hopkinton despite a wind overlay zone stating the area is undevelopable.
Last month, the Hopkinton Wind Advisory Board approved a wind overlay zone, which maps areas of a community where wind towers would be permitted to be built, within the town of Hopkinton that does not expand to south of State Route 72. The decision by the board was made in an effort to keep the wind towers away from the Adirondack Park boundary.
This was in response to wind company Avangrid Renewables proposing to install approximately 40 wind turbines up to 500 feet tall within the next few years for a project called the North Ridge Wind Farm. The company began seeking certificates and submitting plans for the 100-megawatt wind energy generating facility last May.
According to Avangrid, the overlay zone isn’t actually applicable and won’t alter its plans for development, which includes installing 11 wind turbines in the town of Parishville and 20 turbines in Hopkinton – 14 north of State Route 72 and 16 south of State Route 72.
“Arbitrarily drawing a line on (Route) 72 is not based on any scientific determination. And in fact, the area south of 72 is less populated and includes land that has been heavily logged,” said Paul N. Copleman, spokesman for Avangrid. “Also, there are landowners there who are interested in leasing their land that is compatible for turbines.”
The wind overlay zone is nearly identical to one proposed in 2011.
“The overlay zone that dates back to more than five years now was never officially sanctioned and never a determination of the town that certain areas were and were not appropriate for clean energy development,” Mr. Copleman said. “We’re maintaining that both north and south (of Route 72) are compatible with wind energy.”
The next step for the wind overlay zone is for the Hopkinton Town Board to hold a public hearing and vote on it.
“We would hope the town board would reject the arbitrary line,” Mr. Copleman said.
Scott L. McDonald, a senior business developer with Avangrid, said he did not know when the Hopkinton Town Board would vote on the wind overlay zone.
“At this point, we have not been advised when the town board will hold a hearing on the issue,” Mr. McDonald said.
The project has seen pushback, namely from a group comprising Hopkinton and Parishville residents who call themselves Concerned Citizens for Rural Preservation. They argue the project will cause sleep problems and other health issues, decrease property values and ruin the rural aesthetics in the two towns.
“We understand that diverse opinions exist, but we also feel the wind farm enjoys immense support in both towns, as folks contemplate an investment that would bring jobs and deliver more than a million dollars a year annually directly into the community,” Mr. Copleman said.
As part of their early-stage development, Avangrid filed a preliminary scoping statement earlier this month. The statement is designed to gather input from the public and interested participants on the scope and methodology of studies that would need to be conducted.
The filing started a 21-day public comment period.
“We’re still early what is deliberately a lengthy and fact-driven process, but we still feel this area is a great site for our wind farm that has the potential to deliver long-term economic impacts for everyone in the community.”
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