Cohocton Wind Watch: Prattsburgh town board recap by Arnold Palmer
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, October 23, 2009

Prattsburgh town board recap by Arnold Palmer

The first was when Chuck Shick introduced a resolution, seconded by Steve Kula, to begin the process to consider – not enact, simply begin considering - a 6 month wind farm moratorium. In light of the events in Italy over the past few days, the threat of being sued by Ecogen seems to be off the table. A moratorium, therefore, offers solid upside with zero element of risk to Prattsburgh. Immediately, the gloves came off and what had so far been a unified meeting to do the people’s business divided into a partisan event with the industrial wind farm people on one side of the table – Harold, Stacey and Sharon - and ‘You People’ on the other. The resolution was voted down 3-2. Harold, backed by Stacey and Sharon, said he needed more time to “think about it”. Pressed for what he needed to think about, Harold said that he supported wind turbines and didn’t want to limit the Town’s options. Always in character, Stacey responded with something to the effect that she didn’t need to think about anything; her posture was that if Chuck and Steve were for a moratorium, as a matter of principal, she was against it. It does make one wonder just what the divided board will try to accomplish to push wind before there’s a potential changing of the guard in 2010.

The second highlight was Glen O’Connor from Bliss, NY who spoke during the public comment piece of the meeting. Mr. O’Connor, whose home is surrounded by the Weatherford project in the western part of the state, in the 3 minutes allotted him in return for a 3 hour drive, offered a number of sobering thoughts:

• The moment the turbines became operable, his TV reception stopped.
• Shadow flicker lasts for several hours each day and makes his family physically ill; their only recourse to close all their blinds and shades.
• The noise is constant, inescapable, maddening, and makes sleep almost impossible.
• He has already spent $40,000 in personal legal fees to fight an offshore entity with bottomless pockets from billions in revenues that chose his community because it doesn’t have zoning.
• He urged the people of Prattsburgh to educate and protect themselves against a dangerous and completely unethical adversary.

Without taking anything away from Hal Graham’s sad comments on what it’s like to live in the midst of the 40 wind turbines in Cohocton, his warnings had no more effect this time than before. When Harold, Stacey and Sharon have their minds made up, they’re not about to be confused by facts. Of course, none of them lives near a potential wind turbine site. Hal also cautioned that people in the Tug Hill project had had mechanic’s liens placed on their properties when the wind company failed to pay its vendors. It also appears that landowners who sign wind farm leases cannot sell or mortgage their properties because they no longer have free and unencumbered title.

Wind came up once more during the budget discussion. Harold, who just a few weeks ago said the town simply could not afford to spend $11,000 for a noise study (or accept Tom MacAllister’s generous offer to pay for it), said that, through sound business practices, Prattsburgh had at least $175,000 in the Town’s annual budget that would go unspent in 2009.

The final issue that caught my attention was Stacey Bottoni’s concern about whether, in light of the severe recession and the fact that those workers who haven’t already lost their jobs haven’t had a raise in several years, the town should be planning to implement an across-the-board - rather than merit oriented - 4% raise for its employees in 2010. Chris Jensen expressed a concern that, because all of the 5 towns contiguous to Prattsburgh have implemented 3-5% annual raises during the period Prattsburgh had not, he is worried that the town would lose experienced people to other communities. The board elected to leave the decision for the people to make at the public budget hearing later this month.


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