Allegany planners recommend rescinding wind energy overlay district

June 17, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

ALLEGANY, N.Y. — By a vote of 3 to 2, the Allegany Planning Board voted Monday to recommend that the wind energy overlay district in the Chipmonk Road area be rescinded. 

The action, which came after some heated discussion, will now be reviewed and voted upon by the Allegany Town Board.

The recommendation comes three months after the Supreme Court of the State of New York dismissed an appeal filed by EverPower Wind LLC against the planning board. A letter that had been sent to the town from EverPower attorneys after the court decision had stated the company relinquished “any rights it may have to the permits to build a wind farm in the town of Allegany.”

 EverPower had planned to build a $160 million wind farm that had been approved in 2011 by a previous town board, but later had proposed the use of larger alternate turbine models for the project in the Chipmonk and Knapp Creek areas. Use of the larger turbine models, than those previously approved, was rejected by the courts. Also rejected by the courts was EverPower’s claim that  a lawsuit initially filed by Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County, and later dropped, was a primary reason for the company’s failure to proceed with the project. 

During Monday’s discussion, town planner Carol Horowitz told the planning board that the overlay district should be rescinded for a very specific reason.

“Potentially a (new) developer could come in and use those same parcels for a project,” Horowitz explained. “And they would not have to go to the town board for approval because that overlay district is already placed — so at that point all they would need is the special use permit and the site plan approval.”

Board member Rick Kavanagh contested the action and said that by recommending the overlay district be rescinded, the planning board takes on a responsibility that should strictly be handled by the town board.

Horowitz reminded the board that it had the option to decline making a recommendation. 

Planning board chairman Frank DeFiore also reminded the board of the court actions and EverPower’s decision to “look at other avenues.”

He further noted that the town “just doesn’t want this (overlay district) hanging out there.

“If somebody else wants to come and apply, they have to meet our town law regarding wind,” Defiore said. “At that point, then the town can decide where to create or recreate an overlay district to deal with a proposal, if one should be presented.” 

At that point, Kavanagh reiterated his belief that town board make the decision on its own.

“If the town board wants to get rid of it, they can get rid of it anytime they want,” Kavanagh said, later noting he didn’t see the “plus side” in rescinding the district.

Board member Pete Hellier responded with “There is a plus side … the biggest problem you have is if you have something sitting up there and it’s dormant, that doesn’t stop anybody from coming in and saying, ‘OK, this is the zone I’m going to build in.’” 

After further back and forth discussion on the issue, Hellier told Kavanagh that he was “going to split the board in half again.”

“Fine with me,” replied Kavanagh.

Board member Dr. John Sayegh said that if the planning board offered a recommendation, the town board’s decision would carry more weight. He then made a motion for the planning board to recommend rescinding the district. Others who voted in favor of the action were DeFiore and Hellier, and voting against the measure were Kavanagh and Helen Larson.

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