Let's all hope for a windy future here in Chautauqua County.
The County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency met this week at the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator in Dunkirk for a deviation hearing on the Arkwright Summit Wind Farm LLC, ready to receive comments from representatives of the taxing jurisdictions on the company's requested abatement of real property taxes with respect to the project facility.
According to CCIDA documents, the wind farm is asking for financial assistance, "(...) including potential exemptions or partial exemptions from sales and use taxes, mortgage recording taxes and real property taxes."
This deviates from the CCIDA's normal pilot proceeding.
"This project is unique," said CCIDA Chief Financial Officer Richard Dixon. "We don't have a set policy for large commercial wind farms. Therefore, our uniform tax exempt policy didn't fit, (and) we had to come up with a different payment structure for property taxes."
Dixon explained that without approved tax breaks, the wind farm project "is just not feasible" due to high costs.
No representatives showed up to comment, though, having had any questions about the project answered previously, so the hearing was closed.
According to CCIDA Business Development Manager Kristine Morabito, public hearings on Dec. 7 and 8, in Pomfret and Arkwright, respectively, were better attended by residents.
"There were about seven attendees at the Pomfret meeting, and in Arkwright there were around 15 or so. Many of the questions centered around the project itself, not so much the financial assistance that's being requested through the agency and contemplated by the board here today," she said.
Morabito shared with board members that the public does seem to be well informed about the wind farm project, with some residents even having attending the planning board meetings.
"They spoke in favor of the project," she said.
The CCIDA has not received any written commentary from the taxing jurisdictions' representatives on the matter of financial assistance for the project from the agency.
The board remains enthusiastic about the project, and is awaiting word from the town of Arkwright before it can make further decisions regarding financing.
"The town did have to apply to the county (planning board) for some variances," reported Dixon. "... They passed unanimously."
The variances had to do with the construction of a few of the wind towers themselves, and the potential for impact on the Dunkirk airport. As there were no hazards foreseen by the Federal Aviation Administration, the towers may be constructed as planned.
"The next step in the process is that the town (of Arkwright) needs to accept the final environmental impact statement as completed," said Dixon, "... then the IDA will move forward."
The CCIDA board members will revisit the issue in January, after they receive approval from Arkwright, the lead agent for the project.
After the deviation hearing, CCIDA Administrative Director and CEO Kevin Sanvidge was reappointed unanimously. Board of Directors officers were also authorized for the next year.
The board unanimously consented to the sale of ECR International, Inc. stock to BDR Thermea Groupe, B.V.
The CCIDA will next meet Jan. 26 at 10 a.m. at its offices at 200 Harrison St., Jamestown.