REDFIELD – A capacity crowd showed up at the Redfield Town Board meeting Sept. 13 to see what fallout there would be from the closure of some snowmobile trails in the town.
Salmon River Timberlands LLC recently sent a letter to Redfield Snowmobile Association President Ed Montieth stating the company was not going to open for this winter season about 20 miles of trails used by the association.
Salmon River Timberlands wrote in the letter “we will not be opening any of our property for public snowmobile trails in the town of Redfield” for the 2017-18 winter season. “The zoning and Town Boards of Redfield, as well as the Tug Hill Commission, have rejected the idea of working with our company in any reasonable matter. Thus, as a direct result of this, we were forced to take this action.”
Salmon River Timberlands LLC is leasing land to Avangrid Renewables for its Mad River Wind Farm project. Avangrid, a subsidiary of Spanish energy company Iberdrola, has proposed a 350-megawatt wind farm project that would consist of the construction of up to 125 wind turbines in Redfield and the town of Worth in Jefferson County.
The company states the turbines would cover about a 200-acre footprint within about 20,000 acres of working forest it has leased from Salmon River Timberlands LLC, which is part of WoodWise Land Co.
Redfield Town Supervisor Tanya Yerdon said she expected a large turnout at the Sept. 13 Town Board meeting because people have been upset and concerned about Salmon River Timberlands’ decision to keep the trails closed.
And while about 50 people filled the meeting room, none came forward to speak or ask questions. Yerdon told them the board was not going to discuss the windmills or zoning, anyone who did want to speak had to keep remarks to three minutes each and speakers could not be unruly.
She then made sure everyone there knew the Town Board had nothing to do with Salmon River Timberlands’ decision to close the snowmobile trails.
“This town did nothing and we have no ideas of doing anything to the snowmobile club,” she said. “We have always worked well with the snowmobile club, backed them and would do nothing to jeopardize them.”
She said the snowmobile club “brings a lot of money into the town and helps with our tax base.”
“I was appalled” at what was said in the letter, she said. “We have not rejected any applications on anything. We are sorry this firestorm has started.”
In the letter to Montieth, company Operations Director Matt Smith did not say exactly why Salmon River Timberlands was pulling its trails from use. But Montieth and others in the town speculated it was because the town was drawing up a zoning law.
Yerdon said previously the zoning law was not written to keep the wind farm out of Redfield. She said New York state’s Article 10 law, which concerns the siting of electric generation facilities, allows the town to be part of the siting process only if it has a zoning law on the books.
She said the zoning law does not prohibit wind farms or limit their development. The proposed zoning law is finished and was presented to the Town Board at the Sept. 13 meeting.
A workshop to discuss the zoning law is set for 7 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Redfield Fire Hall. Copies of the law will be available to see at the town hall before the meeting or residents can give their names and addresses to the town clerk and a copy of the law can be mailed to them.
Residents must contact Yerdon to sign up to speak at the Sept. 26 workshop meeting.
Yerdon also told those at the Sept. 13 meeting that while the zoning commission has finished writing the zoning law, it could take months before the Town Board decides whether to accept it or deny it. A formal public hearing on the law also will have to be held before the Town Board votes on the law.