Cohocton Wind Watch: Public hearing on wind law draws residents for, against
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


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Friday, November 07, 2008

Public hearing on wind law draws residents for, against

ENFIELD — It seems the proposed Enfield wind law — whether it passes or not — is going to leave some residents unhappy.

At a Thursday public hearing, most of the 60 residents on hand spoke in favor of the law, but Ken Donley, a Black Oak Road resident, said those against the law and the wind farm itself weren't out in full force.

“They're not here tonight because for them, being here is a waste of time,” he said

That feeling stems from opinions that the town board is going to pass the law regardless of public comment and that the project itself is “agenda driven,” Donley said.

Dissenters at the meeting complained the proposed law contains setbacks of 450 feet from structures, such as homes, and 100 feet from property lines. The setbacks are reduced from a wind law that was repealed in early 2008, and it had 600-foot setbacks.

Donley, who would live as close as possible to the wind turbines, said he didn't think anybody would be willing to take his place as a resident nearby the wind farm because of possible safety concerns that are exacerbated by the reduced turbine setbacks.

He wasn't alone in feeling that the setbacks will allow towers too close to homes.

Gary Fisher said he thinks the setbacks could endanger residents if a tower were to collapse, and that with such narrow setbacks houses, or people, would be jeopardized by any flying debris.

One resident who wasn't at the meeting was Bruce Varner, a leader in the fight against the wind farm.

Varner has sent at least one letter to the state Attorney General's office, which was obtained by The Journal, questioning wind farm developer John Rancich's conduct. An official from the Attorney General's office said the entire wind industry is being investigated, but he was not specific.

Varner alleges cocktail parties Rancich hosts are unethical along with his relationship with town attorney Guy Krogh and for the amount of property Rancich owns, which Varner considers a monopoly on the wind industry in Enfield.

No more than two town board members have attended those parties at a time in compliance with the state open government law, Rancich said in August.

Dee Murphy, a Connecticut Hill Road resident and bed and breakfast owner, said she had concerns about the noise since many of her customers go to Enfield to get away from the noise.

Many wind-farm supporters, such as Marguerite Wells and Philipp Meyers, said the turbines aren't major noise producers. Jill Swenson, a Deer Run Lane resident, suggested a wind farm in Enfield might be able to draw from the Ithaca agrotourism crowd.

Meyers, a Texas native who said wind farms are more common where he's from, said he fully supports wind power.

Meyer also addressed the safety concerns brought up by Fisher and Donley.

“I realize it's an unknown, but it's not a real risk,” he said.

Rich Teeter, a Black Oak Road resident who will abut the wind farm, said every time he gets in his car he takes a risk, and that some parts of life deal with risk most people have come to accept.

Town Supervisor Frank Podufalski said he appreciated the turnout, and said Enfield “has a golden opportunity to pass a law with the right restrictions.”

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