FARMERSVILLE —The Farmersville Town Board held its first meeting since its proposed wind law was struck down by the Cattaraugus County Planning Board amid about 50 wind law opponents dressed in black.
The T-shirts outlined opponents goals: A 3,000-foot setback, 450 height limit and 40 dBA sound limit. The back of the black T-shirts featured a wind turbine and read: Too Big. Too Close.
A group of eight members of a Buffalo-based operators union clad in orange work shirts stood silently at the back of the room. As one of the union members left the meeting he declined to comment.
Town attorney David DiMatteo outlined for the board the reasons the County Planning Board gave for disallowing the proposed local law: The increase in the proposed turbine height limit from 450 to 600 and the impact on the county’s rural character.
That rejection means the town board will either need a “super majority” of four members to approve the local law over the County Planning Board’s objection or start over on another local law with significant differences that would require another public hearing, DiMatteo said.
Supervisor Robert Karcher acknowledged the opposition to the proposed project, but said without a local law, the state Siting Board could vote to put windmills in the town anyway and the town would lose its host community fee.
One man replied to Karcher’s statement by saying, “It’s better to base a decision based on the constituency than fear.”
“Right now we’re working on a host agreement,” Karcher added.
“A majority of the town is against the windmills,” said town resident David Button.
“I think we have to do what’s best for the town,” Karcher replied.
“They (Siting Board) don’t have to abide by our law,” DiMatteo reminded residents. Article 10 will be the determining factor, he said.”It’s not going to be decided in this room.”
Karcher said, “If it’s too restrictive, they (state) can override it.
Ginger Schroder, a town resident and attorney representing Farmersville United said “as long as our law is reasonable” she didn’t believe the Siting Board would shove it down the town’s throat.
“Invenergy is nervous,” Schroder said. “Our current law will be upheld at 450 feet and they (Invenergy, the Alle-Catt developer) don’t want it.”
Schroder added: “It’s not a foregone conclusion, Rob.” She reminded him that the Cattaraugus County Legislature has asked the Industrial Development Agency not to grant tax breaks for large wind farms like Alle-Catt. The 340-megawatt project would site 117 turbines acoss 20,000 acres in Farmersville and Freedom in Allegany County, Centerville and Rushford in Allegany County and Arcade in Wyoming County.
County Legislator Donna Vickman of Farmersville said she was one of the county lawmakers who sponsored the resolution asking the IDA not to grant tax breaks to large wind projects. She said the Planning Board “decided that’s not what we want here. They want this to remain a rural county.”
Doug Thompson, a town resident whose grandparents fought the proposed Farmersville dump more than 20 years ago, said it appeared the supervisor had not read the complete Alle-Catt application.
Farmersville United president Mark Heberling referred to the 21-page deficiency letter from the New York State Board on Electric Generation and the Environment in response to the Alle-Catt application filed Dec. 18.
“Big wind does not care about our Farmersville community or helping out its residents,” Heberling said. “Only making money and lining their own pockets with it. They prove this over and over.”
Heberling said the town should look for a wind developer that would live within the town’s current wind law and its 450-foot height limit. “We want three things: 3,000-foot setbacks from property lines, No more than 40 dBA at property lines and 450-foot height limits.”
DiMatteo also reviewed a revised Code of Conduct list for the Alle-Catt project of town officials with possible conflicts of interest because of their relationship with a wind turbine leaseholder or owner of property crossed by electric collection lines, roads or other infrastructure.
Town Councilman Richard Westfall has a wind turbine lease and Councilman Richard Zink’s parents have a wind lease in neighboring Freedom and Town Clerk Bridget Homes’ family has a wind lease. These had all been previously disclosed, DiMatteo said.
Regarding the listing of the clerk and deputy clerk, Karcher said, “They’re not voting.” Karcher previously said Westfall would not be voting on the local law.
The supervisor is listed on the latest Code of Conduct on Alle-Catt’s website. Karcher’s father-in-law has a wind lease.