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Town council tables SASS discussions  

Town board members decided to revive discussion of the designation, which is administered by the state Department of State, in the hope that it would prevent developer Avangrid Renewables and its subsidiary, Atlantic Wind LLC, from building part of its Horse Creek Wind Farm project within the town. If the department granted the town a designation, development projects that would have relied on state or federal actions, including indirect actions, permits or funds, would have required additional review.

Credit:  By Marcus Wolf | Watertown Daily Times | June 30, 2017 | www.watertowndailytimes.com ~~

CLAYTON – The Town Council decided Wednesday not to pursue a contentious state scenic-area designation and to conclude discussions about it.

“I want to take it off the table and be done with it,” said Councilman Robert W. Cantwell III. Mr. Cantwell previously said he opposed the designation because he thought it was an “unneeded level of bureaucracy.”

The board voted to table discussions about seeking a Scenic Area of State Significance designation until the end of the year. Mr. Cantwell, who put the motion to table SASS discussions forward, and Town Supervisor David M. Storandt Jr. said board members didn’t want to inhibit future members who may want to revisit the topic.

Town board members decided to revive discussion of the designation, which is administered by the state Department of State, in the hope that it would prevent developer Avangrid Renewables and its subsidiary, Atlantic Wind LLC, from building part of its Horse Creek Wind Farm project within the town. If the department granted the town a designation, development projects that would have relied on state or federal actions, including indirect actions, permits or funds, would have required additional review.

“I’m glad the board decided to act and provide closure,” Mr. Storandt said. “The whole topic was disruptive to the community.”

The board before the meeting received a letter from Barbara L. Kendall, a coastal resources specialist with the department, that provided answers to their questions about the designation. The department previously stated it would not provide answers or a public presentation unless the board pursued the designation.

In her letter, which can be found on the town website, Ms. Kendall referenced previous responses to SASS-related questions from a 2014 Hammond Town Council meeting when officials from Hammond and nine other towns and villages along the St. Lawrence River, including the town of Clayton, considered a joint SASS designation. She also referenced a 2015 letter the department sent to Hammond Town Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram.

Ms. Kendall said any questions regarding the history of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and the differences between it and SASS would be best answered with on-site training, but she told the board it could update its LWRP to include additional information about the town’s scenic resources. She also said the department could not answer any questions about how SASS would affect the proposed Horse Creek Wind Farm project because Avangrid Renewables has not yet submitted a formal application for the state Article 10 law review process.

“The Article 10 review process does provide an additional venue for municipalities to participate in the siting process of wind energy facilities and municipalities may be eligible to receive funding during the review process to retain a local planning consultant for project review,” Ms. Kendall said in her letter. “The department is otherwise unable to respond to the potential outcome of a hypothetical project scenario.”

Councilman Lance L. Peterson said he voted in favor of tabling SASS discussions because he felt some of Ms. Kendall’s responses were unclear.

“Obviously, the commitment to help us stop the wind farm wasn’t clear,” he said.

Councilwoman Donna J. Patchen said she felt the answers were not definitive enough, particularly answers to her concerns about how the community would be involved.

“I just didn’t think this was best for the Town of Clayton,” Ms. Patchen said.

Councilwoman Mary J. Zovistoski was the only board member who abstained from voting on the topic.

“I was hoping we were going to further explore what’s been said and really have a well-educated decision,” she said. “It’s not like I’m for or against it.”

Source:  By Marcus Wolf | Watertown Daily Times | June 30, 2017 | www.watertowndailytimes.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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