FARMERSVILLE – Members of Farmersville United, the group opposed to the proposed Alle-Catt Wind Farm and others are wondering what happened to the Farmersville Town Board’s survey on proposed wind law changes.
According to one town board member, the board has been briefed on the survey, which was mailed to town property owners in mid-December. They had to be returned or postmarked by Dec. 27.
The survey asked town property owners if they support the wind farm or not and if they thought the setbacks – 1,800 feet from a residence and 1.5 times the height to a property line – are enough.
The law would increase the maximum height of wind turbines from 450 feet to 600 feet. Noise levels of 50 dBA would be permitted.
Town officials hoped to use the survey to gauge public opinion other than counting opposition at public hearings on the wind law.
Andrew Warner, the town’s deputy supervisor told the Times Herald on Monday the board members had been notified of the results of the survey, but declined to share those results.
The town’s wind attorney, David DiMatteo of Warsaw, was seeking permission from board members to issue a press release on Monday, Warner said. His office did not return a call seeking comment on the survey.
Supervisor Robert Karcher did not return a call seeking comment.
Two board members were present Jan. 2 when the surveys were tabulated in DiMatteo’s law office.
When DiMatteo last spoke in public session at the Dec. 17 meeting of the town board, he said returned surveys were running about 50-50.
The proposed Alle-Catt wind farm would see more than 100 industrial turbines in Farmersville, Freedom, Centerville, Rushford and Arcade.
Mark Heberling, president of Farmersville United, said the group “has received numerous emails, Facebook messages, texts and calls from residents of Farmersville seeking information as to the outcome of the postcard survey.”
Ginger Schroder, attorney for Farmersville United, said, “We believe that the survey came back against the project and that our board, which is largely pro project due to the majority of board members and other town employees (with) personal or familial financial interests in the project, is huddling with Invenergy to figure out how to spin this. It is difficult to think of what other explanation there can be for the board’s failure to immediately share with the public the results which have been presumably been known to them for some time.
“How long does it take to count checkmarks on less than 800 postcards,” she asked, “three hours, maximum?”
Schroder said she emailed the town board demanding transparency in immediately sharing the survey’s results and added that she has sent a comprehensive Freedom of Information Law request to the town for all survey documents, and for all documents demonstrating when, in fact, the results were tallied and known as well as all communications between town board members and representatives of Invenergy.
As of Monday, she said she had not heard back from town board members on the survey.
A public hearing has been set for 7 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Farmersville Town Hall on a proposed local law that would provide legal services to town officials for decisions made in the course of their duties.
“If we find out that the results were shared with Invenergy, the industrial project developer, in any manner, prior to the constituents this town board represents, there will be hell to pay,” said Peter Lounsbury, who is vice president of Farmersville United. “Many of our members are quite mad at this point.”
Heberling said, “A number of our members who should have received a survey did not, and we heard of quite a few that complained that they did not receive one.”
Both Heberling and Lounsbury said they believe the survey will still show that the majority of residents who returned one do not favor the project.
“We feel we have our finger on the pulse of the citizenry in Farmersville and that prior to the survey, the expressed public sentiment was decidedly against the Alle-Catt wind turbine project,” Lounsbury said.
Heberling said he hopes the survey “will be used along with the overwhelmingly negative expression of opinion of town residents that occurred during the Oct. 18 public hearing to persuade our town board to further strengthen, rather than keep as is or weaken, the currently proposed Farmersville wind law.”
Heberling said, “Our most pressing concern is that the guidelines and laws for the potential development of this project, which are currently under consideration by our town board, should be the most up-to-date and safest for our land, our environment and our citizens.” He said, “The current law or an even less protective law is being consistently pushed by Invenergy across all project towns.”
Town officials “should not be operating under their personal and familial interests, and unfortunately, there is too much of that going on,” Heberling said.
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