Close to eight years of legal battles, community upsets and neighbors bickering with neighbors over a proposed 29-turbine wind project in the town of Allegany came to an end Tuesday.
The final nail in the coffin of the proposed EverPower Wind LLC project in the Chipmonk and Knapp Creek areas was hammered when the Allegany Town Board unanimously voted to rescind the wind overlay district.
“It’s been a long time coming, and I’m glad this is over,” said Chipmonk resident Karen Mosman after the meeting. “But I’m in shock — is it real?”
The vote came at the beginning of Tuesday’s regular meeting in the Allegany Senior Center on Birch Run Road. The room was three-quarters full of residents who sat quietly as Town Supervisor John Hare read through a 25-page State Environmental Quality Review form and zoning map amendment to rescind the wind overlay district. The form listed a number of issues that will not be affected by rescinding the overlay district, such as geological features, air, plants and animals, agricultural resources, aesthetic resources, transportation, energy and human health. The board agreed with each of the 13 issues reviewed before voting unanimously on a “negative declaration regarding the removal of the wind overlay district.”
The action brought applause from the audience.
The board then voted unanimously on another motion to adopt an ordinance that rescinds the wind overlay district created by town board members on Aug. 29, 2011, which brought another round of applause.
When an older member of the audience asked Mr. Hare to explain exactly what had transpired the town supervisor replied, “Basically by the two actions we took tonight, this rolls back or eliminates the overlay district created approximately three years ago.”
“Thank you very much,” responded a woman in the audience before everyone got up to leave.
The board was asked to decide on the matter in June after the Allegany Town Planning Board recommended that the wind energy overlay district be rescinded. Their recommendation came three months after the New York State Supreme Court dismissed an appeal filed by EverPower against the planning board.
Following the dismissal, EverPower relinquished its rights to build a wind farm in the town of Allegany. The company had planned to build the $160 million wind farm after it was given the go-ahead for the project by the previous town board. The project fell through after three years of legal struggles with the town and Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County.
Residents who included Kathy Boser, president of Concerned Citizens, wanted to see the overlay district rescinded because the planning board had indicated that another developer could potentially step in and use the zoned parcel for a new wind-turbine project.
Following the meeting, Mrs. Boser said she and others in the community were grateful for the actions of the town and planning boards.
“Now that it’s rescinded, any (wind company) could come back in, but they’d have to start over again,” she said. “I think there were some lessons learned from this one and I think the boards will be better prepared.”
Concerned Citizens member Gary Abraham agreed with this thought and declared, “It’s over for any (proposed) wind farm in Allegany.”
Allegany resident and businessman Dennis Casey said he was “thrilled” with the outcome.
“We’ve had time to anticipate this,” he said in commenting on the relatively quiet response from the audience during the vote.
Others who commented included Mrs. Mosman’s husband, Ray, who said he hopes the action will help the community heal.
“I think this is done; it’s been a long haul and a heck of a burden off our shoulders,” Mr. Mosman said. “But I think now is a time of healing, because this made enemies out of friends.”