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Farmersville Town Board to meet June 4 on turbine law

FARMERSVILLE – The Farmersville Town Board will meet in a work session June 4 to discuss controversial changes in the town’s local law on wind turbines.

The town board held a public meeting May 7 to get input from residents on the proposed Alle-Catt Wind Farm, which wants to site wind turbines in the town.

Most speakers opposed the wind farm while others suggested wider setbacks from property lines – up to 3,000 feet. The wind turbines will measure 585 feet from the tip of each blade to the ground.

Groups opposed to the wind turbines have formed in both Freedom and Farmersville.

The alternative energy company Invenergy has been working on the Alle-Catt Wind Farm for three years. It has done extensive wind testing and has selected its preferred site and lease agreements with more than 100 landowners. Alle-Catt includes another 34 wind turbines in Freedom, 10 in Rushford and 29 in Centerville in Allegany County and nine in Arcade in Wyoming County.

According to one Farmersville Town Board member, plans are to base the town’s wind turbine laws on the Town of Freedom model so all five towns’ laws will be similar.

The Farmersville Town Board plans to have proposed changes to the local law ready for a public hearing in June or July.

The most important unanswered question remains: how wide a setback will local laws require and will they be identical? The Farmersville Town Board is considering setbacks between 1,100 and 2,000 feet, with sentiment for a figure somewhere between the two.

An Invenergy official, Valessa Souter-Kline, told the Olean Times Herald on Thursday that the 3,000 feet setback from property lines requested by some Farmersville residents “is not doable” because it would decrease the number of wind turbine sites in the town. It would also not be any safer than a setback about half that distance, she said.

Souter-Kline said a better way is to have a decibel-based setback. The company has not decided on a turbine model yet.

She said she met again on Monday night with the town board and on Wednesday with the Farmersville Volunteer Fire Department, which are both supportive of the project.

Souter-Kline said Alle-Catt would mean $7 million a year for the local economy from $3.2 million in payments in lieu of taxes (P.I.L.O.T.) and host community fees and $2.7 million to landowners and a $1 million payroll for operation and maintenance.

Farmersville, for example, is looking at $100,000 a year in a P.I.L.O.T. agreement plus a $250,000 annual host community agreement payment.

Freedom’s combined payments from Invenergy would be $450,000. The Franklinville Central School District would get $100,000 from a P.I.L.O.T. and Pioneer Central School would get a $330,000 P.I.L.O.T.

Cattaraugus County would get a $380,000 P.I.L.O.T. Various fire districts in the Alle-Catt imprint would share $190,000 a year.

Other annual municipal payments would include: Arcade, $220,000; Centerville, $440,000 and Rushford, $140,000. Allegany County would get $300,000 in P.I.L.O.T payments each year and Wyoming County would get $20,000.