FARMERSVILLE – One of the attorneys representing Farmersville residents opposed to the proposed Alle-Catt Wind Farm is challenging Farmersville Town Board members’ refusal to disclose emails from the developer.
Gary Abraham, an environmental attorney working with Ginger Schroder, an attorney living in Farmersville, wrote the town last week to say the exemption to the Open Meetings Law the board cited did not apply.
Schroder said Saturday the town’s refusal of her Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request on emails between town board members and Invenergy, the developer of the three-county 108-turbine wind farm, makes one ask why.
Schroder especially wants to see emails from the company after the town board initially agreed to drop the decibel level (dBA) from 50 to 42 at a June work session on revising the town’s existing wind law. Last week, the board reverted to the 50 dBA level, but increased distance to most residences to 1,800 feet.
Schroder said the tips of the turbine blades, reaching nearly 600 feet from the ground, will make them the tallest structures in upstate New York and visible over a wide area.
“They are designed to be offshore turbines and we are human guinea pigs,” Schroder said. The towers would be 900 feet from property lines.
Schroder is disappointed that Councilman Richard Westfall, who has signed a lease with Invenergy for a wind turbine, continues to participate in the town board discussions on the local law.
Supervisor Robert Karcher indicated in May that as a leaseholder on the project, Westfall would not be voting on the local law.
Schroder believes another town board member may have a family member with financial interest in the project.
“The town is supposed to be acting in everyone’s interest,” Schroder said.
There are currently more than 250 members of Farmersville United who are opposed to the project, which would site 24 wind turbines in the town in exchange for $360,000 a year in host fees and payments in lieu of taxes (P.I.L.O.T.) payments.
Their concerns, like those of Timothy Long of Pigeon Hill Road, are the health effects on humans, animals and birds. “My concerns are the setbacks from property lines,” he said.
Schroder said people will be shocked when they see the visual impact studies. “They will be more than 100 of the tallest buildings in upstate New York,” she said. “This is a travesty for the community.”
Schroder’s initial calculations found Farmersville stood to lose between 15 percent and 30 percent of its $76 million in property value. That means property values could drop between $11.4 million and $22.8 million.
Cattaraugus County stands to lose between $850,000 and $12 million in agricultural value, and another $4.3 to $13 million in loss of tourism, Schroder said.
The town board voted last week to send the proposed changes to the Cattaraugus County Planning Board for review despite the fact they had the local law has not been formally adopted by the board.
The board also voted to conduct a public hearing on the local law Aug. 13.
The board is expected to address the local law again at Monday night’s regular town board meeting.
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