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Henderson supervisor wants expanded analysis on wind project

Henderson Town Supervisor John J. Culkin argues that Apex Clean Energy and state agencies should expand their proposed review materials for the Galloo Island Wind project because any potential impacts from it will be greater than the impacts on any other nearby municipality.

“It’s going to happen here first and it’s going to happen here greater than anywhere else,” Mr. Culkin said. “With the exception of (Galloo Island) itself – and Stony Island.”

Mr. Culkin said Monday in comments he submitted about the developer’s stipulation agreements with several state agencies that more materials and expanded study areas were needed to thoroughly assess the potential visual, land use and environmental impacts the 108.9-megawatt project may have on Henderson.

Mr. Culkin also said in his comments the town’s zoning laws and comprehensive plan should be considered applicable documents to the project’s review “despite whatever aberration, swindle or other deal or arrangement made in the 18th century that landed Galloo and Stony Islands legally in the town of Hounsfield,” because the island is six miles from the town.

“We’ll include laws that are appropriate to the location of project facilities,” said Neil T. Habig, senior director of project development for Apex Clean Energy.

Apex Clean Energy proposed in its stipulations to submit a visual impact assessment that will include view­shed mapping and simulations and identify visually sensitive resources near the project, but Mr. Culkin said the proposed materials should include more vantage points within Henderson.

Environmental Design and Research, a Syracuse-based planning and design firm that will prepare the visual impact assessment for Apex Clean Energy, recommended 16 viewpoints that warrant visual simulations to measure the project’s potential visual impacts, according to a document it sent to several stakeholders. The list includes a viewpoint from the Robert Wehle State Park and two viewpoints from the Route 3 Scenic Byway near Henderson Harbor.

Mr. Culkin, however, said in his comments that additional viewpoints around Stony Point lighthouse and Association Island should have visual simulations. He said in his comments the project would cause a property value loss of about $40 million in the town, citing the Nanos Clarkson Research Collaboration Study, and additional viewpoints would address the properties most affected. He also said the Association Island campground is important for generating tourism revenue.

Mr. Habig said the developer will consider Mr. Culkin’s requests.

“(The selected viewpoints are) relevant but not compatible in the area that they cover,” Mr. Culkin said. “The sites chosen aren’t where anybody lives.”

The developer also proposed to include a map showing existing land uses at the project site, uses within five miles of the project and uses within half-a-mile of off-site facilities.

Mr. Culkin said in his comments that the developer should expand the five-mile radius to at least 10 miles, if not 13 to 15 miles, when analyzing land use or any potential impacts.

“There are a variety of impacts that this wind farm is going to have and they need to look at the impacts on the real world, not just five miles of waves,” Mr. Culkin said.

Mr. Habig said Apex Clean Energy expanded the scope beyond a five-mile radius for several assessments, including a 15-mile circumference around the island for its visual study area.

“I think supervisor Culkin will find that the application will address his concerns,” Mr. Habig said.

Mr. Culkin also said in his comments that the developer should submit a new state environmental quality review that assesses the project’s potential environmental impacts on the town if the previous document for Upstate NY Energy’s Hounsfield Wind Farm does not address those potential impacts.

“(State environmental quality review) does not apply for facilities over 25 megawatts,” Mr. Habig said. “Anything over 25-megawatt generating facilities are subject to Article 10.”

According to the stipulation agreements, Apex Clean Energy planned to transport materials and equipment from Henderson Harbor, prompting comments from Mr. Culkin about potential physical and socioeconomic impacts transporting materials and equipment could have on the town.

Both Mr. Habig and Mr. Culkin, however, said the developer no longer plans to transfer equipment and materials from Henderson. The developer also scrapped plans to potentially use an existing boathouse and boat ramp on Point Peninsula in Lyme to transfer equipment and materials to Galloo Island, Mr. Habig said.

“It was originally in there. It was pulled. It was an oversight,” Mr. Habig said. “It will be corrected in the final stipulations.”

Apex Clean Energy plans to build 30 turbines, with each 3.6-megawatt turbine just under 600 feet high.