It turns out that, despite the fact that a public hearing was held on the subject of a wind farm in Freedom and surrounding towns, it’s already a done deal and evidently was even before the hearing. It was following some heated discussion during the board’s April 16 meeting that Councilman Ann Marie Dixon confirmed that the decision has already been made when, exasperated, she said, “We know they’re going in!” At that comment, many in the audience exclaimed.
“Finally!” shouted one resident and applauding the admission. That acknowledgement was tempered by the fact that the vocal majority at this meeting spoke angrily against a wind farm.
Invenergy Renewables LLC, parent company for Alle-Catt Wind Energy LLC, is devising plans to construct and operate a 108-turbine, 380-megawatt facility. The wind farm would comprise hilltop areas of Arcade, Centerville, Rushford, Farmersville and Freedom.
During the meeting Supervisor Randy Lester called on town board members and planning board members to offer comment on his or her feelings on the issue. A couple of audience members raised their hands, one of whom asked why a vote could not be taken. Supervisor Lester noted that members of the public had their chance to be heard at the March 26 public hearing. At that time, the majority of those who spoke were against the project, but there were only 55 people in attendance and only 14 chose to comment.
Planning Board Member Jim Shannon, the only member of either board to comment – besides Supervisor Lester who explained that, after conducting much research, he is supportive of the project – said he is wholly in favor of the wind farm “because every single member of this town will benefit. This town needs income; I know no other way to get it.”
Shannon also said, “If you don’t like them [wind turbines], then you don’t like green energy.”
Councilman Dixon, obviously upset over the angry back-and-forth that developed during the meeting, shared that she and other neighbors on Hughes Road have to deal with a gravel pit that, over the years, has been “digging deeper and coming more and more in my backyard.” Dixon said that, while she is not directly affected now, her neighbors are. “And there are trucks on our road night and day,” she said.
There are pros and cons for everything, she said.
Libby Hubbard asked Supervisor Lester what is next with regard to communications [with leadership in Albany].
Lester explained that each of the five town supervisors were advised to nominate five people from their town (25). Of that number, a siting board will choose two to serve as ad hoc members. These people will participate in review of the proposal and vote on the application. When asked who he nominated, Lester replied that he chose the members of the planning board.
Both Supervisor Lester and Councilman Dixon have said that it is Gov. Andrew Cuomo who has directed implementation of the wind farm with his decree that, by the year 2030, 50 percent of New York State’s electricity is to come from renewable energy sources.
Questions were raised about if, and how, this project can be stopped. While some said they believe there is no way to stop it (and not everyone wants to), others said there is definitely a way. A woman advised people to look into how residents of the Town of Somerset fought a wind farm, and she said Freedom residents can and should follow their lead.
Stephanie Milks of the citizen’s group Freedom United stressed, “We do have a lot of say and a lot of power.”
When asked if there will be any more public hearings on the subject of a wind farm in the Town of Freedom, Supervisor Lester stated “no.”
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