WATERTOWN – Town of Hounsfield officials plan to rescind recent legislation pertaining to wind farms like the proposed Galloo Island Wind project that sparked litigation from the town of Henderson.
The Hounsfield Town Council adopted a local law in November that amended its zoning ordinance to have wind energy included as “essential service” in writing. Henderson officials, however, sued their neighbors and accused them of failing to notify Henderson in time, failing to ensure the law complied with Hounsfield’s comprehensive plan, not bringing it before the Jefferson County Planning Board and not completing an environmental impact assessment.
Hounsfield Supervisor Timothy W. Scee, however, said during a Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency meeting Thursday that he scheduled a public hearing to rescind the law in January. He also said his town board plans to create a separate wind law with guidance from the county planning office.
“That mishap was totally my responsibility,” Mr. Scee said. “It was a misunderstanding from our attorney in Massena, and I should’ve never moved that forward through the board for approval.”
Henderson previously sued Hounsfield in February 2010 in regards to the previous iteration of a wind farm on Galloo Island from Upstate NY Power Corp., which called for a transmission line through Henderson.
Mr. Scee said the recent law “was a knee-jerk reaction to” allegations from Henderson claiming Hounsfield’s zoning ordinance doesn’t allow wind farms on the island, which he disputes, and the 2010 litigation.
He said “and we knew if we didn’t do something, they were going to file a legal challenge against us this time as well.”
“It’s definitely a move in the right direction,” Henderson Supervisor John J. Culkin said.
Both towns participate in the state Article 10 review for Apex Clean Energy’s Galloo Island Wind project allowing them to review the developer’s application, present exhibits before the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment and engage in discoveries.
Apex, which has applied for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement to the JCIDA, recently selected a more advanced turbine model for its project that allows for a reduction in the number of turbines from 30 to 24, said Neil T. Habig, senior director of project development. The megawatts per turbine will increase from 3.63 to 4.5, and the overall turbine height will rise from 585 to 606 feet.
Mr. Habig said evolving technology convinced the developer to switch turbine models, with the new model having a larger swept area due to longer blades that can better capture the wind resource.
“So we are in the process of preparing an (Article 10) application amendment, which we hope to submit sometime next week,” he said, adding that he also plans to update the PILOT application.
Examiners overseeing the Article 10 review for Apex’s project, upon agreement with the developer, have decided to delay the review beyond its year-long time frame after the firm neglected to include the sighting of a bald eagle’s nest on the island in its application. The review extension would delay Apex’s potential start date for construction from 2020 to 2021.
“We’re interested to work with the IDA and have discussions and negotiations moving forward,” Mr. Habig said.
Apex plans to connect its project to a substation in Oswego via an about 30-mile transmission line. Its application for a PILOT was deemed complete by the JCIDA last year.
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