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Residents flock to fundraiser supporting wind farm opponents

HENDERSON HARBOR – Residents from across Jefferson County flocked to the Henderson Yacht Club on Sunday for a fundraiser supporting the efforts of two opponents to argue against the Galloo Island Wind project.

The Henderson Business and Community Council held a raffle, auction and dinner to raise money for Claudia J. Maurer, and retired fishery biologist Clifford P. Schneider, who work together as one party in the state Article 10 review for Apex Clean Energy’s 108.9 megawatt wind farm. They have been trying to raise $35,000 to hire an attorney who will guide them as they present information and arguments during the review.

Apex has proposed building 30 turbines on the island that could include 600-foot-tall towers and blades as long as 180 feet. Each would generate 3.6 megawatts of power, which would be transmitted to shore through a 33-mile underwater cable.

Ms. Maurer, Henderson, and Mr. Schneider, Wellesley Island, have been outspoken critics of Apex’s project for its possible adverse effects on the wildlife that inhabits Galloo and the surrounding islands, particularly birds and bats. In addition to ecological concerns, they want to hire experts to help address other possible issues pertaining to zoning, an alleged lack of alternative sites for comparison and fire safety.

“The goal is to let people know it’s a legal proceeding, and as we move forward we have to have some type of legal adviser,” Mr. Schneider said.

More than 100 people attended the event, listening to music in the dining room, which was decorated with “no wind” signs and donation boxes on the tables, and typing comments on the state Public Service Commission’s website using computers in the sun porch. Some attended just to learn more about the wind farm.

Julie Biondolillo, Henderson Harbor, said she spent $20 on raffle tickets to support the fundraiser. Her family has owned a summer camp on Snowshoe Point since the early 1900s. Ms. Biondolillo said she wanted to keep a “sunset with no windmills” and feared Apex’s project would cause fish to scatter away from Galloo Island.

“We know where their spots are and we feel they won’t be there any more with the (underwater transmission) line going in the water,” she said.

Ms. Maurer and Mr. Schneider previously requested $55,875 in intervenor funding to retain ecologist Shawn Smallwood, ornithologist Gerald A. Smith, Barnes Corners, and attorney Douglas H. Zamelis, Cooperstown.

State administrative law judges awarded them $22,652 in August, which Mr. Schneider said was only enough to hire the two scientists, prompting him and Ms. Maurer to fundraise. Ms. Maurer, however, said they had garnered about $10,000 before the fundraiser and was optimistic about the event turnout.

“It has exceeded my expectations,” she said.

Gary H. and Nina N. Zehr, who own Salmon River Wine and Spirits, Pulaski, said they donated wine and spirits for the event. The couple, Ellisburg, had planned to build a half-million-dollar home in Henderson Harbor, but said they may forego their plans if Apex builds its wind farm.

They said they fear the project will hamper the local fishing industry, kill birds and reduce the town’s aesthetic appeal.

“We want to stop this madness because that’s what it is,” Mr. Zehr said.

Henderson locals have been active in their opposition toward the project with a protest at the island in Lake Ontario in September and at the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency on Thursday.