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Couple in Howard Denied Request to Have A Statement on Windfarms Read into Minutes of Meeting

Eric and Kyle Hosmer of Howard address the Howard Town Board meeting Wednesday night and asked that a letter they read to the board be placed in the official minutes. The request was denied for the time being. As a courtesy, we are printing portions of that letter here.
Editor's Note: The complete letter follows.

To the Town of Howard Board, Residents and Community:

About four weeks ago, we were approached by a neighbor in regards to wind turbines being built in Howard, NY. We had noticed the radio towers at the top of our hill and heard something about wind turbines, but did not really understand what could possibly happen in the very near future to the hills where we bought our first home and plan to raise our children. On many occasions we have discussed the fact that we would like to spend the rest of our lives on this hill, but our plans did not include being surrounded by wind turbines. Since that day, we have been very attentive to meetings in the area and interviews done on radio regarding this issue. We began surfing the web and making contacts with people who had a much better understanding of the benefits verses costs of wind farms. Don’t get us wrong, we are not against green energy, but truly believe there is an appropriate place for it, and that it shouldn’t dash the dreams of people by affecting their quality of life, potentially devaluing their property and causing potential health issues, etc.

I (Eric) attended my very first Howard board meeting on April 12, 2006 with the intent of... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
To the Town of Howard Board, Residents and Community:

About four weeks ago, we were approached by a neighbor in regards to wind turbines being built in Howard, NY.  We had noticed the radio towers at the top of our hill and heard something about wind turbines, but did not really understand what could possibly happen in the very near future to the hills where we bought our first home and plan to raise our children.  On many occasions we have discussed the fact that we would like to spend the rest of our lives on this hill, but our plans did not include being surrounded by wind turbines.  Since that day, we have been very attentive to meetings in the area and interviews done on radio regarding this issue.  We began surfing the web and making contacts with people who had a much better understanding of the benefits verses costs of wind farms.  Don’t get us wrong, we are not against green energy, but truly believe there is an appropriate place for it, and that it shouldn’t dash the dreams of people by affecting their quality of life, potentially devaluing their property and causing potential health issues, etc.

I (Eric) attended my very first Howard board meeting on April 12, 2006 with the intent of simply sitting back and observing.  I had not been to any of the other meetings on this issue, so I thought it inappropriate for me to speak.  When my neighbor began to express his concerns regarding potential negative impacts on his personal investment, quality of life, etc, I felt as if the town board appeased him by allowing him to talk, but then mocked his concerns.  At this point, I felt that I too needed to speak up with my own concerns.  During that meeting, it was expressed to me that I could not fully understand what the turbines were going to look like, sound like, etc. until I went to Fenner Wind Farm and observed them for myself.  In the back of my mind, I knew I had to get there before the next board meeting (May 10, 2006) in order to validate my concerns.  Therefore, my wife, two sons and I took the three hour drive to Fenner on Saturday, May 6th.

On our drive to Fenner, we inadvertently exited the thruway earlier than we had planned to, and ended up coming into the area via Cazenovia (from the West.)  When we first saw the turbines spinning in the distance, we marked our mileage.  At that point, we saw a man working on his house and immediately did a u-turn and drove into his driveway to ask him about the effects of the wind turbines on his way of life.  He didn’t have a problem with them and said he noticed them the most when he sat out on his porch at night and he could see the lights blinking on the tops of the towers.  He was approximately 20 miles away from the turbines.

As we continued to drive toward Fenner and the wind turbines became larger and larger, they seemed somewhat ominous.  They reminded us of the big machines from the movies “The Terminator” or “War of the Worlds.”  The starkness of the turbines simply does not fit with the natural beauty of the area.  They give the area an industrial type look, rather than the peaceful beauty one would expect to see.  It sickens us to think that the Howard area could lose the natural asset of its beauty.

As we arrived into the Fenner Wind Farm area, we were amazed at how huge the turbines actually are.  They just dominate the landscape.  Fenner consists of 20 wind turbines, rated at 1.5 megawatts each.  The height of the tower alone from the base to the hub of the propeller is 213 feet, with the rotor assembly diameter of 231 feet, making the total height of the wind turbine 328 feet (www.fennerwind.com/index.html).  We saw full grown trees, homes and barns dwarfed by the turbines.

As we drove around the wind farm area (especially in the center portion), one thing we noticed was it appeared to us as if it was a ghost town.  On a Saturday afternoon, when you might expect to see people working in their yards, the homes looked empty and deserted.  We saw a car drive through the area once in a while, but none seemed to be stopping at any of the houses, just passing through.  It just didn’t seem right.

We did come up to a house that intrigued us.  We had previously read an article from the internet by Pam Foringer (http://www.presqueisle.org/audubon/letter1.pdf.)  She and her husband built their home in Fenner in 1981.  In 1999 they began to notice the construction of test towers (such as those now seen in our area), and in 2001 the wind turbine farm went online.

It was sad to see, as we read in her letter, dreams dashed by the construction of the wind turbines so close to her home.  We saw the pine trees that they had planted the first couple years they were there, that will never grow tall enough to hide the wind turbines that sit right behind their home.

Pam was not home when we first drove by, but later on as we worked our way back around, we noticed a vehicle in the driveway.  We decided to stop and see if she would talk to us.  She was very friendly and spent a lot of time with us.  Hearing of our situation in Howard, she was eager to tell us of her experiences living surrounded by wind turbines and granted us an interview that we videotaped.

She is not against green energy at all, but believes there have to be stricter guidelines regarding the placement of the wind turbines.  She approximated that her house was about 700ft from the closest turbine, and that was too close.  I told her of the Howard law that the board passed allowing turbines to be within 1000ft of a residence and 400ft from an adjacent property.  She reiterated that this was absolutely too close.  She spoke of how she can hear these turbines running continuously and how the noise fluctuates according to the speed of the wind.  She said it might not be so annoying if the sounds were constant, but the continual change is hard to deal with.  She talked about how when the wind blows too fast, the turbines brake and stop.  She described this sound as a train grinding abruptly to a halt.  She talked about during the winter when the noise from the turning blades is louder and the fact that ice sometimes falls from the blades and crashes to the ground, sounding like a bass drum.  One of the more annoying problems that frequently arises is called the “flicker factor”.  At certain times of the day (sunrise and sunset) the sun sits directly in line with the turbine blades and her house, causing a strobe-like affect.  Although it was a cloudy day, there was a short period where the sun peeked through the clouds, and we were able to witness and video tape it.  It was apparent that on a sunny day, this could be very troublesome.

Pam also told us that her taxes have never decreased since the turbines were installed, but in fact, her property assessment and taxes have gone up (this, with no turbine on her own property.)

When we asked about increased traffic and road maintenance, she told us that traffic in her area has gone up dramatically, and that the roads are not well maintained.  The last time anything other than having potholes filled in was done on her road was over a year ago.

After speaking to Pam, and researching wind turbines, we realize that many people in our community simply are not aware of how these turbines may affect them or their neighbors.  People need to be aware of how they (and others in their community) will be affected in the next year, the next five years, the next twenty years, and so on.

Considerations include:
* Increased noise and loss of peace

* Flicker-factor (which has been shown to cause migraine headaches, and trigger epileptic seizures, even in those unaware of their condition.)

* Increased traffic and lack of funding for road maintenance (we have two young children, and specifically moved to this area so that we would not have to worry about them near a busy road.)  How well and how often will our roads be maintained?

* Loss of natural beauty to our area

* Loss of property value (after visiting Fenner, we would never deliberately purchase a home surrounded by wind turbines.)

* Will there be interference to radio, television, cell phones, etc?

* What, if any, financial gain will there be to our community?  Who will profit from the turbines?  The wind power companies?  A few landowners, while their neighbors suffer the consequences?

* Who will use the energy?  Steuben Rural Electric currently offers a lower rate than the wind companies will be able to provide.

* If it is determined that the addition of wind turbines is beneficial for the whole of the community, what safeguards will be put in place to protect those living near the turbines?  

    -How far from a residence or property line is reasonable?  1000 feet from a residence, and 400 feet from a property line is simply too close.
   
    -Will any areas be off limits for the construction of towers?
   
    -Will there be limits as to what hours of the day the sites can be worked on?
   
    -How quickly will a service call be made on a turbine after a complaint is received?  Will residents be well informed on how to make complaints?  What about new residents?
 
    -What happens if contracts are sold to another company, as they were in Fenner?  Will established safeguards continue to exist?
 
    -What responsibility is placed on the Town of Howard, the energy companies, or leaseholders if neighboring properties are devalued or unable to be sold?  How long will they be held responsible?
 
    -What if the energy company decides to abandon the turbines?  Will they be removed?  How will this be paid for?  If money is in escrow for this, will the amount increase with inflation, or will our tax dollars pay for their removal?  Or, worse yet, will these unused turbines simply stand?
 
    -Will there be a limit on the size of the turbines, now and in the future?
 
    -Will personal property be protected?  (If roads need to be widened, will we lose the beautiful lilac bushes at the front of our property?)
 
    -Will non-resident leases be allowed?  (If you are not willing to live under a turbine yourself, should you be allowed to have one erected over a neighboring resident’s home?)
  
    -Will the turbines be fenced in to protect people from mechanical issues, ice throws, etc?  Are there other dangers to be considered?

I am sure that there are other considerations that we have not yet thought of, but as a community, should we not make ourselves aware?  Should we not question and consider how these turbines are going to affect our community in the long term?

Respectfully,

Eric & Kyle Hosmer, Hornell, NY 


Source: http://www.ask4direct.com/I...

MAY 11 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/2570-couple-in-howard-denied-request-to-have-a-statement-on-windfarms-read-into-minutes-of-meeting
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