CLAYTON, N.Y. -- With outside developers looking to build a wind farm in Clayton and surrounding municipalities, town officials felt the need to draft a new local law that would help regulate the development of wind energy projects.
"We have not updated our policies in five years, so it's a first pass, if you will, to see what language we can bring in to address those concerns on what's changed in the market since then to maintain the health, safety, and welfare of our community,” said town supervisor David Storandt.
Before the law could ever pass though, town officials want input from the community. Residents were able to make their voices heard at a public hearing Wednesday night. For the most part, the comments were all the same; many are against a new wind farm.
"I am deeply concerned with the long-term risks associated with the proposal as well as the forceful tactics used by the developer which I can only interpret as hostile,” said Clayton resident Christopher Hopper.
"I think it's been pretty clearly demonstrated by not only this town, but other surrounding towns and some actions by the county that this area does not see fit to have this type of development,” said Clayton resident Ken Knapp.
On the other side, a representative of Avangrid Renewables LLC, which is proposing the Horse Creek Wind Farm, spoke out about the benefits of the project.
"Such as direct payments to host landowners, tax payments to the town and schools, construction and permanent jobs and other long-term economic opportunities,” said Scott McDonald, a senior business developer with the company.
McDonald also said he feels the new local law would outright ban wind projects, but town officials say that's not necessarily true. They just want to look out for residents.
"I'm against communities getting torn apart because of wind projects,” said Storandt. “Unfortunately, I've seen what's happened to neighboring communities and the communities have changed really for a generation and how they interact with each other and I hate to see that happen to our community."
No decisions will be made anytime soon though. Local Law No. 5 still needs to be approved by Jefferson County's planning board before it could pass. The next county planning board meeting is on September 27th.