FARMERSVILLE – The president of Farmersville United, a group of local residents opposed to the proposed Alle-Catt Wind Farm, expressed disappointment in the wake of action by the Farmersville Town Board on Monday.
At a work session on changes to the existing Farmersville Wind Turbine Law, town board members agreed to setbacks and maximum noise levels. It will now go to the Cattaraugus County Planning Board for review.
However, the board decided to revert back to the 50 decibel level (dBA) instead of the 42 dBA proposed at last month’s work session by Councilman Richard Zink. No reason was given by Zink Monday night for the change except he said it appeared a majority of the town board favored the 50 dBA level measured at a residence.
Increasing the setback from 1.2 times the height of a blade from the ground to 1.5 times the height of the 585-foot wind turbines will probably result in noise below the 50 dBA level, Zink said. The board also indicated support for a 1,800 foot setback from a turbine to a residence. Councilman A.J. Warner was absent.
Mark Heberling, president of Farmersville United, called the change back to the 50 dBA level a “surprising development.”
In an email to town board members, Heberling said, “We cannot tell you how distressing it was for core committee members of Farmersville United who were there last night to see the Board’s complete about-face on the issue of noise levels for the wind project, from where the Board was at its last work session. This is terrible, especially in the face of so many comments at the informational session by Farmersville residents imploring the board for a 40 dBA limit.”
Heberling accused Invenergy, the wind farm developer, of corresponding with town board members in the interim. The town refused a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, Heberling said, leading Farmersville United members who attended “to conclude that a majority of the town board is in privity with Invenergy and wants this project to happen on Invenergy’s terms without any thought for the health safety and welfare of the citizens of Farmersville whom the Board is required to protect.”
Herbling also accused Supervisor Robert Karcher of relying too heavily on advice from Invenergy spokesman Eric Miller and taking “his word as gospel.”
The Farmersville United president also questioned Councilman Richard Westfall’s “active participation” at Monday’s meeting “especially on increasing the noise levels,” since he has signed a lease with Invenergy. “He personally stands to profit in the hundreds of thousands of dollars from Invenergy payments if this project goes through,” Heberling said.
Karcher previously stated that one board member – later identified by Farmersville United representatives as Westfall – had signed a lease with Invenergy.
Herberling called a telephone survey Town Clerk Bridget Holmes undertook of some other towns in the state with wind turbine laws “incomplete” and “highly suspicious.” He said a better survey could have been obtained through public websites.
“We wonder where she got that idea from,” Heberling said. “And why would this board care what other towns have done?”
Heberling cautioned the board: “Make your decisions based on your constitutional duty to protect the residents who elected you to serve in a fiduciary capacity. Fail to do so at your peril.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding