Cohocton Wind Watch: Wind farm permit on hold
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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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Wind farm permit on hold

Prattsburgh, N.Y.

Prattsburgh Town Board members refused Tuesday to grant wind farm developer EcoGen a building permit or to waive the requirement for a permit.

The board originally met in special session to consider revisions to the town’s draft building permit law and to attach fees to the permit.

However, recent reports of near-deafening noise created by turbines operating in nearby Cohocton have spurred the Prattsburgh board to seek more information before it will decide on revisions to the permit law.

Cohocton residents told board members last week the turbines sound like jet engines, rattle windows, disturb sleep and upset animals.

Prattsburgh board members have visited the noisy turbine sites.

“There was enough noise to make me realize it’s a problem,” said Councilwoman Sharon Quigley, a wind farm supporter.

Councilman Chuck Schick said there are now three sound studies of the Cohocton projects under way, including one by developer First Wind.

Schick suggested the board enact a moratorium to allow them enough time to look at any new information needed for a decision on the revised law.

His suggestion was followed by a reminder from John Leyden, Prattsburgh’s town attorney, that EcoGen had notified town officials it had to have a permit or a permit waiver immediately following Tuesday’s board meeting.

“They said ‘we want it now or we’re suing,’” he said.

The lawsuit would be based on the company’s claim that the town board has no legal right to delay the project.

Leyden said EcoGen has already submitted an application to the board, and maintains a permit is not really required for the project. The company says the project’s financing depends on a swift decision by the board, according to Leyden.

However, EcoGen’s application was turned down by the Prattsburgh board in December, followed by a resolution early this year saying they would not issue a permit until the law was in place, according to Councilman Steve Kula.

Leyden said the lawsuit from the developer would be difficult to defend, but added the town did have arguments in its favor.

“I’m for whatever you want to do,” he said. “I just want you to know what you’re facing.”

While the board agreed not to take any action on the revised law yet, the moratorium was defeated after Leyden said it could take as long as two months to enact, and would not have an effect on EcoGen.

Schick and Kula voted for the moratorium, saying it represented a public stand on the project.

“We can’t let these guys bully us into making the wrong decision,” Schick said. “A lot of info is available today that wasn’t a year ago, two years ago, or even seven years ago.”

The discussion on the board’s reaction to EcoGen’s ultimatum lasted nearly 2.5 hours, with board members agreeing to seek outside counsel on the matter.

“It just doesn’t make sense to let them run roughshod over us,” Kula said.

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