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Wind turbine project divides Richfield Springs community

By NICOLE PITT

RICHFIELD, N.Y. (WKTV) - An energy company is once again trying to put six wind turbines up in the Town of Richfield. A public hearing on the project was held Monday night.

More than 100 people crowded into the cafeteria inside the Richfield Springs Central School. Most of those in attendance were there to urge the town planning board that this project is not right for the area. A company called Ridgeline Energy wants to build six 492 foot tall wind turbines.

Four of the turbines would go up on one side of Route 20 near the Cole Hill Road intersection. Two others would be built on the other side of Route 20.

Dozens of residents signed up to speak with a strict three minute time limit. Some were unhappy about having a time limit. "I'm very disappointed that the planning board continues to push this project," said Larry Frigault of Richfield Springs. "That the planning board are only allowing the residents three minutes to state their objections, concerns, or thoughts about a project that is a 20 or 30 million dollar project. It spans 1200 acres, it stand 500 feet tall and it'll be seen in four counties."

Many people who spoke at the public hearing are concerned about the sounds of the turbines, the flashing lights and decreasing property value. Only two people spoke in favor of the project and there were a few others sitting in the audience wearing shirts promoting wind power. One man, a 25 year old, said he would be told there would be a job for him if the project is approved. Another resident said he has spoken to many people in town and the majority of the residents don't mind the wind turbine project and the only ones who opposed it were the ones in the room.

"My feelings are that we've got to keep moving ahead with this energy and I feel the wind mills are going to be good for the area," said Rick Bond, of Monticello. "Maybe lower taxes."

A big topic at the public hearing, the local land use ordinance laws. Those are a specific standards that any home, farm or business must meet.

"Our town law regarding special permits is pretty simple," said Frigault. "They fit on an 8x11 piece of paper and they are clear cut. They were written for normal people to read and understand and it's really clear to me and to a lot of people that this project simply can not meet those standards."

The community is definitely split on the issue. Driving around you see signs both for and against the project.

Recently a very similar project from the company was struck down by both the New York State Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. This is a new proposal.

The project is in the hands of the county for approval and if that happens the planning board would have to decide whether or not to issue a special use permit for the project.

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