MARTINSBURG – Voices both for and against Avangrid’s current version of its 11-year-old Roaring Brook Wind Farm Project were heard at the Town of Martinsburg Planning Board meeting on Wednesday during a public hearing.
Landowner Judy Waligory told the board that she and her husband John, also at the meeting, support the project and believe windmills enhance the area. There were also a number of Avangrid personnel and their affiliates present at the meeting.
Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust Board Member Robert Quinn read a prepared statement saying the latest changes to the Roaring Brook project have the organization even more concerned than the original project.
“While the number of turbines is less, the larger size of the turbines, and the road system needed to build and maintain them, raises concerns,” Mr. Quinn said.
The Land Trust believes Roaring Brook will have a negative impact on water quality, fishing, and recreation in general in the most untouched center, or core, of the Tug Hill forest, Mr. Quinn also raised questions about the specific impact the project will have on the new Tug Hill Traverse Trail.
The trail is designed to go across the plateau and be the longest continuous hiking trail outside of the Adirondack Park in the state.
Mr. Quinn said the Land Trust was asking the board “to consider the new Roaring Brook proposal carefully in light of the long tradition of local people fighting to keep what has been held dear for generations.”
Along with a copy of his statement, Mr. Quinn provided the board with the Land Trust’s comments and a SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry report on the Mad River Wind Project, also proposed in Tug Hill’s core forest area.
Rebecca Sheldon, representing the Tug Hill Alliance for Rural Preservation, said her group is concerned about the overall impact of the growing number of wind projects, especially Roaring Brook, on the forest.
“If built, Roaring Brook will contribute to the destruction, fragmentation and degradation of Tug Hill’s core forest – the third largest remaining forest in New York state,” said Mrs. Sheldon. “Its continued vitality requires constant effort, vigilance and a strong land ethic.”
Mrs. Sheldon also echoed Mr. Quinn, asking the board to look again at the entire project, including the proposed changes, with updated information in light of the many wind projects on Tug Hill since Roaring Brook first started.
“Please weigh carefully the environmental impacts of this project against the likelihood that wind energy is limited in its ability to protect us from climate change. We urge the town and all involved agencies to discard the decade-old environmental impact studies and perform updated studies along with an enhanced review process,” Ms. Sheldon said.
She also presented the planning board with a letter from Gerald A. Smith, an avian ecologist who lives on Tug Hill who also urged the board and the state Department of Environmental Conservation to look at the Roaring Brook project as thoroughly as if it had been brought to them as part of an Article 10 process.
Because the Roaring Brook project began in 2007, long before the strict Article 10 oversight process began in 2012, the project approval process doesn’t have as many checks and balances built into it.
The planning board is scheduled to complete the environmental review questionnaire assessing the impact of the proposed changes to the Roaring Brook project on the environment in a special meeting March 20 at the Town of Martinsburg offices.
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