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Town exploring possibility of wind farm

Farmersville's windy ridges could join a hilltop network of wind farms if prospects pan out for the town and Noble Environmental Power of Essex, Conn.

The company has begun building a 67-turbine complex in the Town of Eagle in Wyoming County, and in November, the Allegany County Town of Centerville approved a local law governing wind farm development for another 60 to 67 wind turbines.

Farmersville Supervisor Fritz Zuech and Councilman Joe Brodka said they attended the Centerville public hearing on that law and have monitored other aspects of that town's progress.

In June, the Farmersville Town Board invited the company to explore the possibilities here and learned that up to 60 towers could generate as much as 100 megawatts of power and $500,000 in payments in lieu of taxes. Shortly afterward, Noble set up a test tower at the Pigeon Hill property of Deanne Roblee.

Brad King, a Noble representative who updated the board at Monday night's meeting, said Tuesday that each tower would generate up to 1.5 megawatts of power that could supply the energy needs of up to 300 homes.

He said it's too early to know how many turbines could be built and how much wind is available. He said he provided some initial numbers to some of the board members Monday night after the meeting.

"We don't want to go where we are not wanted," said King in his presentation. He said he has received a favorable reaction and no opposition in contacting about 50 landowners. He said he intends to contact about 70 landowners.

During the meeting, the board voted to hire attorneys Jill L. Yonkers and Dan Spitzer of Hodgson Russ in Buffalo to write a local law that will include Noble's fees and govern the siting setbacks for the towers, allowable noise levels and other environmental issues. An environmental impact study and permitting process also would be required.

Several board members raised concerns about setbacks, future property values, agricultural land protections and learned that chances are slim that the power could supply local homes.

Cattaraugus County Legislator Gary Felton, R-Machias, told the board that the county's attorney recently advised that the county will not write a law governing wind farms. King said the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency has no framework set up to parcel out the PILOT payments to the different taxing authorities.

Yonkers said a number of safeguards such as a decommissioning plan and a bond should be included in a law and the town's future host community agreement will require Noble to pay all technical and legal fees or the town's participation in the project review will stop.

"You have no zoning. They could come in with a simple building permit. Yes, I would suggest you have a law in place," she told the board.

The company is moving forward with a facility of the same size in Eagle and a slightly larger facility in Wethersfield, both in Wyoming County. Another is proposed in Arcade. The company also has test towers in the Allegany Town of Rushford.

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