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Can a ‘scenic’ designation stop wind farms? Clayton takes a look

A number of towns and villages in the Thousands Islands rejected a state scenic designation a few years ago, but now one town is looking it as a way to stop wind farms.

A passionate group turned out for Wednesday night’s Clayton town board meeting and it’s all because of something called Scenic Area of Statewide Significance – or SASS.

It’s a designation from the state and could impact the town’s planning and development decisions.

It’s on the table again because of the idea that the designation could possibly protect the town from wind farms.

“If we get an answer back that says SASS is going to be a big deterrent for that wind project, I’m going to vote for SASS,” town board member Lance Peterson said.

But some people in the town don’t think the designation would stop wind farms.

” I won’t believe it in a million years,” Clayton business owner Michael Ringer said, “and why would a state-run organization fight a state-backed industry?”

People are also concerned that the designation could give the state oversight on local projects.

“It would have a whole other bunch of cubicles somewhere that would be lording over us as the final say on everything that happens on that river,” said Will Salisbury, who’s a part-time town resident.

A representative from the Department of State was scheduled to be at the meeting to answer questions, but canceled.

The town board decided not to make a decision on the designation Wednesday night because there are still a lot of questions.

“The Department of State decided not to send her and we haven’t got answers to our questions, so how could we possibly without doing our due diligence until we hear all our answers to the questions that we submitted and you submitted, make a decision on this this evening, Peterson said.

The village of Clayton board is against the scenic designation.

As for the town, it won’t make its decision until it has its answers from the state.