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Busy month ahead for Alle-Catt Wind Farm issues

This is going to be a busy month for developments in the proposed Alle-Catt Wind Farm in Farmersville and Freedom.

One of the most eagerly-awaited developments will be release of the Farmersville wind survey, sent last month to 788 property owners. Surveys had to be returned or postmarked by Dec. 27 to be included.

The questions were whether property owners wanted the setbacks to be increased, decreased or stay as they are. It also asked whether they were opposed to the Alley-Catt Wind Farm, a 380 megawatt project spread across five towns with 107 600-foot turbines.

Besides Freedom and Farmersville, Alle-Catt plans turbines on Rushford and Centerville in Allegany County and Arcade in Wyoming County.

Farmersville’s wind attorney David DiMatteo is in charge of tabulating the returns. On Dec. 17, he reported to the town board that returns were running 50/50.

Town board members are expected to discuss the survey results at its Dec. 14 reorganization meeting.

Town officials were disappointed to have the Cattaraugus County Planning Board return the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) for the proposed wind law changes on Dec. 27. The Planning Board called the EAF confusing. Some boxes were checked both yes and no for the same question.

Opponents seized on that action as evidence that a full SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) study is needed before the town can approve significant changes in its 2007 local law.

Both Freedom United and members of Farmersville United keep track of developments in the wind farm case via Facebook, email, telephone and YouTube.

The current law includes a maximum height for turbines at 450 feet. The proposed local law which opponents say was drafted by Invenergy, the parent company and developer of Alle-Catt Wind Farm, would increase that to 600 feet.

New setbacks are listed at 1.5 times the height and 1,800 feet from a residence. A 50 dBA noise limit is also in the proposed law.

Invenergy submitted its application last month for the Alle-Catt Wind Farm to the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment.

The same state siting board refused to accept an application by Casisteo Wind Energy, a Steuben County wind farm proposed by Invenergy because “the application, as submitted, is not filed or otherwise in compliance with part 164 of the Public Service Law. The deficiencies were identified in a 12-page response to Invenergy.

The Farmersville town board will also discuss what steps to take to complete the EAF to resubmit it to the county planning board before voting on the wind law amendments.

A public hearing has been set for 7 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Farmersville Town Hall on a proposed local law the provide legal services to town officials for decisions made in the course of their duties.

IN ANOTHER DEVELOPMENT, the Town of Freedom will appear Jan. 17 in state Supreme Court before Judge Jeremiah J. Moriarty in Little Valley to answer a lawsuit filed by Freedom United claiming the town improperly passed its wind law last year.

The lawsuit challenges the town’s Local Law No. 1 of 2018 and asserts that Local Law No. 2 of 2007, the original wind law with its 450-foot height limit, remains in effect. Attorneys Gary Abraham and Ginger Schroder are representing Freedom United in the lawsuit. Stephanie Milks, president of Freedom United, is the petitioner of the 10-page lawsuit. It ask Judge Moriarty to:

• Annul and invalidate Local Law No. 1 of 2018.

• Declare Local Law No. 2 of 2007 remains in effect.

• Award reasonable costs to the petitioners-plaintiffs from the town board.

The Town of Freedom submitted its EAF on the proposed wind law in August for review by the planning board. It was approved by the planning board later that same month, but later the board found it to be incomplete and rescinded its earlier approval.

The planning board urged the town to rescind its law and resubmit it for review. Four months later, the town board had yet to either rescind its 2018 law or resubmit the EAF.