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Sanford adopts 3-month moratorium on wind turbine development

Wind turbine opponents eked out a small but significant victory Tuesday night when the Town of Sanford board initiated a three-month moratorium on wind turbine development.

The action presents a slight snag for New York’s goal to go 50 percent green energy production by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

A stall gives the town’s planning board time a period to assess the impact of a pending 27 tower green energy project planned for Sanford and Windsor in eastern Broome County. A final assessment could be delivered by September, planning board members said. Twenty-three turbines will be sited in Sanford, with four planned for Windsor.

“A moratorium will provide the necessary time to review the plan,” said Kermit Mott, Town of Sanford Planning Board chairman.

The purpose of the moratorium is to allow the planning board to weigh the health and safety impacts of the project on the larger community and “provide an opportunity to document issues – pro or con – with facts.”

Passage of the moratorium was without objection by four board members. One member recused herself because of a potential conflict of interest.

Though the town has now given itself time to review the potential zoning and land use issues involved with the proposed Calpine Corp’s. 124-megawatt turbine operation, the process of review by the state will continue.

State evidence hearings continue

A four-day hearing by a state administrative law judge began Tuesday at Deposit High School as regulators gather evidence for presentation to the Siting Board, which will have final say on the project. On Tuesday, parties debated consequences that 650-foot towers and associated rotating blades will have on the migratory patterns of golden and bald eagles that frequent the ridges on which the turbines are to be sited.

How the move by the Town of Sanford Board to review the comprehensive plan will impact the state’s decision is unknown. A decision by the Siting Board must come by Dec. 28, 2019, one year following the determination that Calpine’s application to the state’s Public Service Commission for a wind generation facility was complete.

A delay and reconsideration of the effects of the project was largely embraced by the about 40 people attending the Town of Sanford board meeting.

Opponents embrace the moratorium

“I appreciate the effort you’ve done so we have time to work on it a little bit more,” said Karl Katen. “Hundreds of people are going to lose a fortune because common sense tells me I don’t want to live under that wind turbine.”

Yet, Adrian Miller put up a strong defense of the project, saying the thousands in annual lease payments to landowners will provide needed sustenance to many in the beleaguered community. Landowners and people within a certain setback of the turbines are getting undisclosed payments from Calpine. The towns and other taxing authorities are scheduled to hammer out payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements with the sponsor.

The Town of Sanford was predicted to be Ground Zero for a fracking boom the never developed after Governor Andrew Cuomo banned horizontal oil drilling nearly five years ago. Nevertheless, many landowners in the area collected portions of $110 million, $2,411 an acre, in lease payments from a drilling company that was planning to tap natural gas said to be laying up to a mile underground. Landowners never collected the 15% royalties from drilling when XTO abandoned the project following the 2015 prohibition.