Clayton -- The Clayton Town Board held its July monthly meeting on Grindstone Island, which it does annually, and discussions by speakers in the audience and board members quickly turned to the subject of the industrial wind project being proposed in Clayton.
"They say their windmills will be 500 feet high, but they may be more like 600 feet or more. That's five times higher than St. Mary's steeple," Grindstone Islander Chuck Ebbing stated.
"I told our grandchildren that if we are not careful all they will see when they look at Clayton is a field of blinking lights," he told the board and audience at Dodge Hall, where the meeting was held.
Relating to wind, Town Councilman Chris Matthews explained to meeting attendees the importance of public input for the Comprehensive Plan, the towns long-range plan, which is currently being updated by a committee.
"The Comprehensive Plan, with regard to Article 10 is very important. Article 10 is the state’s way to look at it (the project) and they can ignore our laws. If our Comprehensive Plan is not in order, they're going to run right over top of us," he said.
Supervisor David Storandt explained that the plan should be updated every five years, but the current plan in place is approximately 17 years old.
The moratorium on industrial wind permits ends Oct. 27, the supervisor pointed out. He explained that the timing of completing and accepting the Comprehensive Plan is pertinent. He then gave an update on the board's progress. "Last week we met with our special wind attorney to discuss what the new wind law should look like, and we considered items that should be added, drawing from wind laws from other areas of the state," he said.
A gentleman from the audience, George Matthews, questioned, "Are the other people on this island and other islands aware this could happen? We may look out here and see nothing but windmills and lights. I see thousands of dollars going to attorneys to fight the state. I want more people to know this is really happening. We need to put it back onto the community and say, if you don't want this, buck up!" He suggested that people donate money toward organizing against industrial wind. "I have no problem giving $100 right now," he said.
Gunther Schaller also said he is concerned with lack of participation. "We need to get active. There are only 64 comments on the Horse Creek Farm on the Public Service Commission website. Once the wind company submits its preliminary scoping statement, it will be like a train speeding down the tracks." He said it is up to the people, not just the town government, to be involved. He said people can make their comments to the Public Service Commission, which has final say about the project, by accessing the town of Clayton website under the zoning department and looking for the link to the Public Service Commission "comments" section.
In other matters, the board authorized a letter of support to Fort Drum to site the East Coast Missile Defense System there. Supervisor Storandt said that the missile interceptor site will create between 600 and 800 long-term civilian jobs. Additionally, it is expected that $1.65 million in taxes will be generated for Jefferson County annually.
Also adopted was a resolution stating the town supports the general "Think Differently" policy initiated by Dutchess County. The policy calls for local governments to consider those with autism and other special needs when planning new development or playgrounds.
Counselors officially named the new docking facility of the river walk, which is currently referred to as the transient dock. The new name for identification and promotional purposes is the Clayton Harbor Municipal Marina. Also, rates were set.
A resident complimented the town for maintaining the roads on Grindstone, but asked that more roads receive a treatment of calcium chloride to reduce dust, which is excessive during the dry summer.
Prior to the meeting, the Grindstone Island bus, driven by Brenda Patch, stopped at the one room schoolhouse so board members could view the newly discovered hardwood floor that existed beneath the tiles. The town intends to have the floor restored at the schoolhouse. It is called the Grindstone Island Research and Heritage Center and was the last operating one-room schoolhouse in the state.
Colorfully painted birdhouses and wood duck houses were displayed on a table on the school’s lawn. The birdhouses will be placed throughout the island. Forty-five children participated in the woodworking project, with the help of a grant from Stewart Shops.
Following the meeting, the board was offered dinner and desert, compliments of island residents. Board members then walked down the road to the Grindstone Island Cemetery to see firsthand what improvements are needed.
The next meeting of the town board is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug.10, in the bottom floor of the Clayton Opera House.