Invenergy, the developer of the proposed Alle-Catt Wind Farm in Cattaraugus, Allegany and Wyoming counties, was sued four years ago for $40 million by 60 Wyoming County residents over quality of life and other issues involving the Orangeville Wind Farm.
The lawsuit, filed by Buffalo attorney Richard Lippes, was filed Aug. 5, 2014, in State Supreme Court in Wyoming County. It was later transferred to federal court in Buffalo, where a jury trial could be held as early as this spring. Judge Jeremiah McCarthy would preside at the trial.
The residents are seeking $20 million in personal injury damages and $20 million in punitive damages.
The Orangeville Wind Farm is cited as a success story by the Chicago-based Invenergy, which is seeking to install 57 wind turbines nearly 600 feet tall in the Cattaraugus County towns of Freedom and Farmersville, 39 in Centerville and Rushford in Allegany County and nine in the town of Arcade in Wyoming County.
Lippes represents about 60 residents and former residents of the towns of the Wyoming County towns of Attica, Warsaw, Varysburg and Orangeville, whose homes are located between 800 and 1,500 feet from Invenergy’s wind turbines.
Lippes said he is almost finished with discovery in the lawsuit and the two sides are expected to exchange the names of their expert witnesses soon afterward.
Lippes said a previous lawsuit filed by residents seeking to block the Orangeville Wind Farm was dismissed in State Supreme Court.
The lawsuit cites constant noise and vibration from the turbines “significantly diminishes the value of plaintiff’s property and homes.” The 50 dBA noise limit “is violated on a regular basis,” the suit alleges.
“(Invenergy) has intentionally caused noise pollution, vibrations, and flicker to enter Plaintiffs’ property, causing Plaintiffs to become sore, sick, lame and disabled, diminishing Plaintiffs’ property value, and interfering with Plaintiffs’ exclusive possessory interests in their property,” the Orangeville lawsuit claims.
This “significantly diminished” the quality of life for residents living near the turbines, he lawsuit states.
Lippes’ argues that Invenergy “continues to cause a trespass upon Plaintiffs’ property and has interfered and continues to interfere with Plaintiffs’ exclusive possessory interests in their property.”
Many of the Freedom and Farmersville residents who have expressed opposition to the 380-megawatt Alle-Catt Wind Farm cite the same concerns listed in the Orangeville lawsuit.
Others have also cited concern over the effects of “infrasound” on residents, which is a very low sound below the ability for humans to “hear.” Wind energy companies say it is inaudible.
Lippes said the turbines are often set as little as 1½ times their height from residences.
Farmersville residents asked for setbacks of 3,000 feet from houses. Invenergy officials said the result of that would be fewer turbines and a loss of payment in lieu of taxes and host community fees for the town. With 23 turbines, Farmersville is looking at $360,000 a year in revenue. Freedom, with 34 turbines is looking at $450,000 a year.
The draft changes in the Farmersville town law would mean turbine setbacks from homes of 1,800 feet.
The town board is considering a 50 dBA after earlier lowering the noise level to 40 dBA at the request of residents who spoke at a public hearing on the town’s proposed wind turbine law.
The Farmersville Town Board held a public hearing on the proposed wind law last month. The board is expected to discuss the law when it meets next Monday at the Town Hall.
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