FARMERSVILLE – Proposed amendments to the Farmersville wind law will be addressed next Thursday by the Cattaraugus County Planning Board.
The board’s post-Christmas agenda was announced Wednesday and includes review by the board of the Farmersville wind law’s amendments.
In August, the county planning board rejected the Farmersville Town Board’s Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) for the wind law changes as incomplete. The town board had failed to complete parts two and three of the EAF.
At the same time, the county planning board reversed itself and voted to rescind approval of the incomplete EAF presented earlier by the Freedom Town Board.
Last week, Freedom United, a group of Freedom residents opposed to the wind law in its present form, filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Cattaraugus County, seeking to have it ruled invalid because the county board did not approve the town’s new wind law.
On Wednesday, Invenergy, the developer of the proposed 308 megawatt Alle-Catt Wind Farm, filed a formal Article 10 application with the New York State Siting Board.
A Dec. 3 letter to Farmersville Supervisor Robert Karcher from environmental attorney Gary Abraham, who is working with both the Farmersville United and Freedom United groups, said consideration of amendments to the 2007 and 2009 local laws “is an action subject to SEQRA” (State Environmental Quality review Act).
A negative declaration SEQRA “would mean no potential for at least one potentially significant impact,” Abraham wrote, while a positive declaration “would mean at least one potentially significant impact.”
Abraham added: “We expect a completed EAF will identify one or more potentially significant adverse impacts.”
One such impact would be the wind farm’s status under the county’s Farmland Protection Plan, Abraham said. The federal Farm Service Agency in Ellicottville “considers large scale wind energy products to be non-agricultural commercial or industrial uses with potential adverse impacts to agriculture,” he said.
“We believe more than one additional potentially significant adverse impact of the proposed amendments will be identified once the town board completes EAF parts 2 and 3 since these parts call for much more detailed information,” Abraham wrote.
He said as a Type I action, the amendments will require an Environmental Impact Statement.
Some of the changes from the 2007 local law include increasing the maximum height of a wind turbine from the tip of the blade to the ground from 450 feet to 600 feet, a setback of 1,800 feet from occupied homes and 1.5 times the height of the turbine to property lines and roads.
Another attorney in the case, Ginger Schroder of Farmersville, said she is preparing a letter to the county planning board stating the Farmersville Town Board “did not appropriately address the issues in the EAF.”
The Alle-Catt Wind Farm would include 120 turbines to power 105,000 homes. It would provide 10-13 permanent jobs and 200 temporary construction jobs during construction. The turbines would be located in Farmersville and Freedom in Cattaraugus County, Centerville and Rushford in Allegany County and Arcade in Wyoming County.
It would provide $7 million in local benefits a year from individual leases, property taxes, payment in lieu of taxes (P.I.L.O.T.) agreements with Cattaraugus County and affected municipalities, school districts and fire districts.
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