The towns of Somerset and Yates are in the process of revising their zoning regulations in an attempt to eliminate or limit the environmental and physical damage that will occur if commercial wind turbines are sited within our community. For this, our elected officials are to be commended. They are responding to the will of the people.
Mr Taylor Quarles of Apex “Clean Energy” has commented on the effort and is quoted as saying, “As we did last time, we plan to work cooperatively with the town through the process.” The record over the past four years that Apex has been in our community speaks for itself.
Most recently Apex has been found to be in violation of its special use permits issued by the Town of Somerset relating to the installation and operation of two meteorological towers.
The information gathered will assist Apex in the siting and operation of Lighthouse Wind, an industrial complex of 70, 600-foot plus industrial wind turbines to be strung along the shore of Lake Ontario in the towns of Somerset and Yates. Violation of the conditions is grounds for revocation of a permit and this should be done. Cooperation apparently involves ignoring things previously agreed upon.
Somerset was forced to issue these permits as the result of an Apex lawsuit involving a dispute over the nature of the towers. Somerset maintained that the towers were part of the larger Project Lighthouse Wind, and therefore required a full blown Type I environmental review. Apex claimed the individual towers required very minimal (type II) environmental review despite statements by its agents that the information was necessary to proceed with Project Lighthouse Wind. The judge decided for Apex in a very narrow ruling. Cooperation apparently involves suing and intimidating rather than complying.
As far as previous activity involving cooperation in industrial wind turbine zoning changes is concerned, in a public hearing on the previous ordinance in February of 2016, Apex recruited numerous individuals from outside the area to speak against the new ordinance. This maneuver completely disrupted the hearing as it had to be moved from the town hall to the high school to accommodate the huge crowd. Needless to say this was an attempt to intimidate and confuse and cannot be termed cooperation.
Further examination of the record shows a cloak of secrecy surrounding significant details of Project Lighthouse Wind. Community representatives have been excluded from technical meetings. Numerous confidential leases have been signed including gag orders. Technical questions have gone unanswered or deemed proprietary. Claimed economic benefits are unsubstantiated. Host community agreements remain undefined and, most significant, we do not know the number, the location, or the exact height of the proposed industrial wind turbines after four years under siege by Apex. This is not a mark of cooperation.
Apex is relying on Article 10 to obtain authority to proceed with Lighthouse Wind, where the approval rests with a siting board in Albany that is dominated by appointees of the governor. Apex therefore finds it unnecessary to cooperate with local residents and their representatives.
The authority of Article 10 must be challenged and home rule must be returned. Industrial wind turbines in Somerset and Yates must be completely outlawed. This reflects the will of the people as has been noted many times over the last four years.
For those intent on “saving the planet,” there are much better ways than junking up the countryside and threatening the health, welfare and way of life of a rural community. The power to be generated is not necessary, is not reliable and is not clean.
James C. Hoffman resides in Somerset.
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