Cohocton Wind Watch: Yates County town rejects wind farm
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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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Yates County town rejects wind farm

In what may have been a first for New York state, the Italy Town Board voted Monday night to deny an application from a company that wanted to build an 18-turbine wind farm in the picturesque Yates County town.

"We're all very pleased, and surprised. All of us who have been fighting for so long — our jaws were on the floor. We couldn't believe what we were hearing from our Town Board," said Kathy Johnstone, a resident and a vice president of the Finger Lakes Preservation Association, which opposes the project.

Board members in Italy voted 5 - 0 to deny the application by Ecogen LLC, which lists an address in suburban Buffalo. The company has sought permission to build a total of 34 turbines in the area — 18 in Italy and 16 in the neighboring town of Prattsburgh, Steuben County. The turbines would be 415 feet tall, equal in height to those erected by another company in the adjoining town of Cohocton, Steuben County.

Two lawyers and an engineering consultant working for the town said they were not aware of any other Town Board in the state that has outright rejected a wind-farm application.

The Italy vote could spell the end of the entire two-town project.

"We don't believe we can build the Prattsburgh project without Italy, because of the economies of scale," said Beth O'Brien, a spokeswoman for Ecogen's San Francisco-based partner in the project, Pattern Energy Group. She said the company would "crunch the numbers and see if we can move forward, but internally, the thought had been that it was all or nothing."

The Italy panel also voted to establish a six-month moratorium on accepting any new applications for wind-energy projects, said Town Clerk Debbie Trischler.

Town Supervisor Margaret Dunn said Tuesday that the vote was driven partly by concerns about such things as persistent complaints about turbine noise in Cohocton and Ecogen's plan to build on steep slopes that hadn't been resolved during the application process.

And she said early public support for the wind-farm concept had been overwhelmed by opposition to Ecogen's proposal.

"The board tried to do what is best for the town, but with these new things coming up and the definite town-resident outcry that they did not want to see the turbines — if they don't want them, then that's what I have to listen to," she said. Several hundred people packed a Saturday morning public hearing in the town highway barn several weeks ago, and Johnstone said 80 percent of them were against the plan.

SORR@DemocratandChronicle.com

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