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Hearing airs support for wind turbines

When the Hamburg Town Board conducted a public hearing on its possible moratorium on wind turbines, what it heard was that the public doesn't want a moratorium.

About 20 people spoke Monday night. Another 13 wrote letters. None of them supported a moratorium, although two said they wanted more information.

"We're totally against the moratorium," said one Woodlawn firefighter. "We're totally pro-business and pro-workers for the area."

That was the consensus among most speakers, including some union representatives. An Iron Workers representative from Hamburg said about 25 of his group's workers were employed in the construction of wind turbines, and he hopes to see that continue as towers are built along the former Bethlehem Steel shoreline in Hamburg.

The board is expected to vote on the moratorium at its May 14 meeting.

BQ Energy has filed a "sketch plan" introducing the project. Project manager Mark Mitskovski said there could be up to six of the turbines, which include towers about 255 feet tall, with blades rising another 150 feet into the sky, in Hamburg.

BQ hadn't done that yet when Hamburg proposed the moratorium March 26. Town officials said that they have been working on revamping their 20-plus-year-old windmill ordinance and that a moratorium would prevent any last-minute projects while finalizing the new rules.

But BQ officials and other speakers said a moratorium could jeopardize the entire project because of potential delays.

Mitskovski said the new plans would not be grandfathered under the old rules. He also said his company hadn't marshaled the speakers.

"People came out on their own," he said. "We weren't even aware of some of the folks."

Town Board members said the revisions weren't targeting the BQ project; there are some industrial zones in the middle of residential neighborhoods that they're more concerned about, they said.

Supervisor Steven Walters has voiced his objection to the moratorium, while Councilman Tom Quatroche Jr. said he has "serious concerns" about one. The others haven't indicated how they lean.

e-mail: eploetz@buffnews.com

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