The Development Authority of the North Country just released a land use study covering Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties. The report makes ninety-four recommendations about every land use issue you could think that might affect Fort Drum and the surrounding community.
About 25 people gathered in the Watertown high school cafeteria on Tuesday night to voice their opinions on the myriad issues that the study covers.
Michelle Capone is the director of regional development at the Development Authority of the North Country. She says the goal of the study is to lay out a roadmap for Fort Drum and local communities to collaborate, “so that they can make informed decisions about land use planning in the future – how it relates to Fort Drum’s current mission and future mission, and vice versa – so Fort Drum knows what the communities are looking at both now and in the future.”
One of the major issues that the report addresses is the effect potential wind developments might have on the radar capacity at the Army airfield and the National Weather Service station in Montague, on the Tug Hill Plateau.
When wind turbines appear on radar systems, they show up as little flickering spots that pilots, air traffic controllers, and weather forecasters have to electronically cover up. Adding more turbines would mean more covered-up spots on the radar, which would make it harder for training missions to fly safely. It’s something Clayton resident Gunter Schaller is really worried about.
“It’s a double-edged sword. Obviously we’re concerned about global warming and we don’t want to be just NIMBYS who say ‘not in our backyard,’” Schaller says, but “anything that could have a negative effect on Fort Drum is something we have to be very concerned about.”
Lawrence Whitmire is a retiree who lives in Antwerp. He says everyone around here recognizes that Fort Drum is essential to the North Country economy.
“We need to have this installation here. We need to have it grow in some manner,” said Whitmire, who’s concerned about commercial development hemming in the base.
“If the government doesn’t expand and buy land, they’re going to have to develop agreements to co-use the land. They’re going to have to keep it from being developed commercially,” Whitmire explained.
The report covers tons of other issues too: housing, public transportation, safety, noise.
The Development Authority of the North Country is soliciting public input on the report. The comment period is open through November 27.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding