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Redfield board halts action on wind law; considers information from developer

REDFIELD – The Town Council once again tabled any major revisions to its tentative wind law Monday so it could absorb additional information from the developer behind the Mad River Wind Farm.

“Get some answers. Do some research,” said Supervisor Tanya M. Yerdon. “We care about this project; we care about our residents, so let’s do this right.”

Project manager Walter J. Meisner held a presentation Monday to answer questions from the board about Avangrid Renewables’ planned 320-megawatt project including turbine construction, sound and environmental assessment.

Avangrid plans to build 88 turbines, each one about 590 feet tall, on 20,000 acres in Worth and Redfield. Company officials, however, were concerned that height and sound restrictions and other provisions in the town’s proposed wind law would hamper development.

As board members continued to mull over certain provisions, Mr. Meisner and the developer’s attorney, James A. Muscato II of Young/Sommer LLC, offered to present additional information to the board to consider.

During his presentation, Mr. Meisner described the difference between erecting a 500-foot turbine, the height maximum in the draft law, and a 600-foot turbine, saying a 500-foot tower would generally require 400 to 500 cubic yards of foundation, while a 600-foot tower would require 600 to 700 cubic yards. Board members, including Mrs. Yerdon, had previously expressed concerns about construction of the project having adverse effects on water quality in the region. Mr. Meisner said the turbines’ foundations would only reach 10 to 12 feet below the surface, hundreds of feet above the region’s aquifers.

“This is really just physical activity on the surface,” he said.

The board, particularly Deputy Supervisor Carla Bauer, was also wary about the project’s possible adverse effects on local flora and fauna.

Mr. Muscato said the state departments of Public Service and Environmental Conservation conduct pre-construction and post-construction monitoring to ensure wind farms meet the state’s water quality, stormwater and other environmental rules.

Mr. Meisner also said the developer follows DEC guidelines when conducting environmental studies for the project.

“They presented a lot of good information,” Mrs. Bauer said.

The project manager also touched on sound, saying developers typically plan projects around a 45 A-weighted decibel limit from a residence, as opposed to the stricter 35 A-weighted decibel limit from a property line proposed in the town’s law.

Councilman Matthew Tompkins asked whether the board could include a provision that calls for stricter sound limits at night. Mr. Muscato said altering the sound from turbines at certain times would be virtually impossible, and Avangrid would have to comply solely with the strictest sound requirement.

“They presented information that I think will help us try to get to the point where we’re comfortable – get somewhere that would be good for the future of the town and developer as well,” Mr. Tompkins said.

The board will continue holding workshops for the wind law outside of its regular meetings, Mrs. Yerdon said.

The board had previously introduced eight other local laws to regulate other aspects of wind farm development, but Mrs. Yerdon said the board withdrew them from consideration after residents expressed concerns about them having unintended consequences on recreation and other industries.

“At this point, I have little to no interest in” the other laws, Mr. Tompkins said.