At the Town of Sanford Regular Meeting on Tuesday, May 10, many people from the Broome County Concerned Residents (BCCR) expressed their concern about Bluestone’s proposed lighting design for the turbines and asked the Board for their support in seeking an extension of the public comment period until they’ve received an answer from the applicant on the feasibility of an Aircraft Detection Lighting System (ADLS), which would activate only when an aircraft is detected and would not be lit 24/7.
Bluestone representatives have repeatedly told BCCR and The Courier in writing as well as during public Sanford Town Board meetings that they were studying and working on an updated technical plan that would reduce the impact from the existing lighting design. On Friday, April 8, 2022, Bluestone told BCCR via email that they had found a solution and were going to submit an alternate lighting design to the FAA for approval. The next week, on April 14, they did the opposite and filed a plan using outdated technology and 24/7 blinking lights for approval with the DMM, stating that using the Aircraft Detection System was too expensive.
BCCR states that the constantly blinking red lights are an unnecessary source of stress and loss of night sky. The alternative is to use the Aircraft Detection System that only comes on when necessary, and then only the minimal number of light points should be used, as these lights are designed to be annoying and, unlike daytime visibility and view-shed, the lit-up turbines can be seen from 26 miles away.
At the Town of Sanford meeting, Larry Hoell, addressed the lighting issue and how visible and annoying these lights would be. Hoell stated that for a comparison, people should drive down / south from Oquaga State Park on N. Sanford Road towards 41 and see how much light just the one new met tower emits. This is not even as bright and annoying as the ones on the turbines itself. And that is just one tower; multiply that by 26.
BCCR also went to the Town Board in Windsor.
After initial hesitation, both boards have promised to write a letter addressing the public’s concern.
The Village of Deposit Board of Trustees also committed to send a letter of support. In the Village’s letter, Mayor Bryan Moore addressed BCCR’s request for a “’detailed exterior lighting report’ and the ‘night-time simulation/visual impact statement’ be made public and filed with DPS’s Document Matter and Management system immediately.”
In addition, Senator Fred Akshar submitted his letter of support directly to the head of the commission. In his letter, Akshar stated that Broome County Concerned Residents (BCCR) “is respectfully seeking an extension of the public comment period until they’ve received an answer from the applicant on the feasibility of an Aircraft Detection Lighting System (ADLA), which would only enable the wind-turbine obstruction lights to activate when an aircraft is detected within a designated range, greatly diminishing the light pollution in the surrounding communities.” Akshar also stated, “Since these turbine could have significant local impacts, I’d respectfully ask that the Board heed BCCR’s various concerns as the siting process moves forward.
Rep. Joe Angelino also submitted a letter of support requesting that the Board “will take into consideration BCCR’s concerns as the turbines would have a significant impact on our local community and residents.”
Anne Lawrence, BCCR co-chair, has also been in touch with Rep. Delgado’s office, who thinks it’s a State decision so they don’t want to get involved. Delgado’s office recommended BCCR work with Angelino’s and Akshar’s offices.
Since BCCR has filed their motion, Bluestone has claimed through a letter to the DPS secretary that they submitted a proposal to the FAA that would add an ADLS system to the proposed lighting design. They did not indicate, however, that they made any efforts to reduce the number of lights, which is presently set at 2 lights per turbine (so we would have 52 lights in total come on and off). This is most likely ‘overkill’ and there could be alternative designs possible to reduce the number of lights, but it would require a study from them about the visibility form various angles / heights/ distances to prove to the FAA that at any time the lighting is safe.
They also did not yet send BCCR the report that they need to see, nor did they file it with the DPS.
Bluestone did ask for an extension for their compliance filing deadline, which has been granted, so that they could submit an impact mitigation statement. BCCR is now waiting for this.
Bluestone also filed a change request to put a different kind of lamps because of “lack of availability of the other ones.” It is not clear if these lamps would be compatible with ADLS.
Lawrence is advising residents to reach out to the elected officials, noting that Akshar and Angelino could use a thank you for their show of support. “They need to hear from us that we need their help and that we care when they do step up.”
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