ARKWRIGHT – Opinions are mixed about the windtowers now operating in Arkwright.
“The windmills are producing power at the highest capacity that EDPR has in all of its windmill projects,” Arkwright Supervisor Fred Norton stated at the town board’s regular November meeting. “They’re very pleased with it.”
According to Norton, there will be a reduction in the town tax this year as well.
“I’ve been advised that payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) that will be due to us will come in July,” he noted. “It’s $50,000, the county will get a check for $90,000 and the Forestville School District will get a check for $170,000.”
Norton went on to discuss the complaints that EDP Renewables had received. He cited one particular case in which an individual had made several complaints about the sound, but that they have refused to allow the town to enter the property to conduct any tests.
“If you have sound problems with the windmills, you have to let us come on the property and test the sound,” Norton added.
Jill Casey, an Arkwright resident, politely shared some constructive ideas with the room that she felt might help to mitigate a few of the issues.
“My concerns were prompted by a recent article in the paper in which people had come to the town board meeting, to raise concerns, and Councilman Ball asked ‘what do you want us to do?’ and so I have a few suggestions,” Casey began.
She went on to outline six different concepts:
¯ The preservation of property values from before the turbines were constructed.
¯ Enforcement of the noise limits and an evaluation of the limits after six-months of operation.
¯ Revision of the current wind law to prohibit further development within the town boundaries of any additional turbines ¯ Preservation of the balance in the region of the rural character, by working with neighboring town boards and the county about how to proceed with adding more turbines to the inventory on the ridge.
¯ Encouragement of the town board to form a resident committee to make reasonable and constructive recommendations to help the property owners live with the impacts of this project.
¯ A website where all documents pertaining to the project can be read by the public.
“I think we’ve had some lessons learned here,” Casey said. “Those of us who have some concerns about the ongoing operation, it has changed our lives here, not all for the positive, and so while the $310,000 PILOT funds may be enticing, that’s one property value loss for some of us.”
Bruce Roll, another Arkwright resident, read a letter he submitted to the board, which contained some verbiage that ruffled the board’s feathers.
“It’s not a convenience or a necessity for corrupt wind turbine companies to come into our community and destroy the place where we live. A cover-up by the town of Arkwright supervisor, board and EDP renewables resulted in the inappropriate and illegal citing of 500-foot tall industrial wind turbine towers and 100-foot tall transmission line towers in an AR1 agricultural-residential district. The environmental destruction is extensive with negative impacts on endangered and protected species. Since the activation of the Arkwright Summit Wind Turbine Project, Arkwright residents are being sickened and entire families are being driven from their homes. You can still save the beautiful community Arkwright once was, if you shut them down and take them down. You can still save Forestville and Cassadaga from the man-made environmental disaster and public health crisis we are experiencing. Deny the CPCN (Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity) for the Cassadaga Wind Turbine Project, and stop the industrialization and destruction of Chautauqua County, Western New York and New York State.”
Councilman Ball took offense to the letter and called Roll out on it.
“Are you inferring that the town board has engaged in illegal operations in the business with EDPR?”
Roll tried to explain his take on the situation saying that he didn’t know what happened, but that the town had once been beautiful and healthy. To which Ball reiterated his frustration asking again if Roll was accusing him of illegal actions.
“That’s what your letter just read, you accused us of illegal and improper actions,” Ball fumed. “If that is the case I would like to see that presented to our town attorney.”
A few residents leapt to Roll’s defense.
“I don’t think he’s really accusing you of anything. I think he’s speaking of ignorant actions more than illegal actions,” Carrie Babcock, one resident, said. “It was a group of people that brought a scientific device into our community. A wide spread, life altering, environmentally altering device.”
“I just don’t think that the board was informed correctly,” Brian Beckwith, another resident, stated. “Or they were misinformed by the windmill company. They were mislead to believe that this thing is so great.”
“We did not act ignorantly, we were advised by council on every step of the transactions,” Norton supplied, citing 12-years of studies.
Roll did interject one last time to argue his issue again.
“It’s my impression, that something was done wrong, incorrectly, illegally, inappropriately, that’s what this is saying. We had a beautiful place to live, now we’re looking at 12, 500-foot tall industrial wind turbine towers on one side of our house and on the other side there’s 100-foot tall transmission line towers – we were never notified of any of this. When the surveyors came onto our property they wouldn’t tell me who they were or what they were doing there. I found out from one town employee, they were from the wind project, we never received a thing about this. What the project was, the scope, implications, impacts. That’s what I’m saying, this is my impression.”
The next board meeting will take place Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
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