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Town eyes wind farm moratorium

FARMERSVILLE -- The Town Board is taking the advice of its new lawyer and will introduce a one-year moratorium on wind farm proposals, pending changes to the town's Wind Energy Facilities law that was adopted last year to regulate permits.

During a special board session Monday night, acting Town Supervisor Joe Brodka said the step is being taken to protect the town. He assured about a dozen property owners and residents in attendance that the move shouldn't cause Noble Environmental Power to abandon its plans for a project in the town.

The Connecticut-based firm has built at least six wind farms across the state, including Noble Bliss Wind Park in the nearby Wyoming County Town of Eagle, and is pursuing another in rural Chautauqua County.

The company has set up an office in Arcade and is moving forward with an application for a 100.5-megawatt Noble Allegany Wind Park in the towns of Centerville and Rushford, along with a 13-mile transmission line connecting it to the grid in Yorkshire.

Officials in Farmersville and Freedom have been meeting for almost two years in preparation for another project that will connect future turbine arrays in the two communities. Both have passed local laws governing permits for wind energy facilities.

Although Noble installed two meteorological data collection towers in Farmersville and has been securing landowner leases, an application has yet to be filed. Freedom's portion of the project is farther along, and officials are at work on host benefit package negotiations with Noble.

Brodka said officials have dug into the 2007 law and became concerned about its wording. Eric Dadd of Attica, the attorney who negotiated Eagle's deal with Noble, has been hired as the town's new negotiator and wind energy attorney. Dadd advised a passage of a moratorium to forestall wind farm applications and allow time to change some parts of the 2007 law that could otherwise create "snags in the system."

"We're concerned how the town receives funds through a host agreement and the application fee is another issue, and there may be others," Brodka said.

Brodka said that the moratorium will be proposed later this month in the form of a local law and be in effect for a year but could end sooner once the Wind Energy Facilities law is revised.

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