For well over a year, I have listened with true appreciation to a number of people who have commented on how long they have lived here, including many who were born here. I think another perspective is also warranted. I was not born here; in fact, my father was in the military so we moved often, as I have also done as an adult. I have lived in three countries and 13 states. My family spent over two years looking before we found our home in Lyndonville. We did not choose to make our home here to live in the middle of an industrial wind factory. If I wanted to live in the middle of 70 skyscraper-tall buildings, I would have chosen to live in New York City.
Having said that, I’d like to thank the Yates Town Board for updating the wind law; certainly the size and technology have changed since it was first written and I appreciate the board trying to protect us all as much as possible from the negative effects this project would bring. To be honest, I don’t understand how anyone can not support this updated law. Even if you are in favor of Apex Clean Energy LLC's proposed project, basic safeguards are necessary for our health, safety, and welfare.
So, how can Apex be upset with this law? It can’t be because of the property value guarantee; they’ve repeatedly told us that our property values won’t decrease! It certainly can’t be the baseline health study; again, they’ve repeatedly said that there are no negative health effects. Despite evidence to the contrary, they claim that the people complaining about them from around the world are exaggerating what are simply “annoyances.”
So, that leaves us with the setbacks — but the setbacks being required are actually under average compared to other communities! They aren’t even on the more restrictive end of the scale! If Apex says that these very basic setbacks equal a ban (as they said to Somerset), that’s on them. What that really means is that this project is improperly sited. It means that they did not do their homework; they are trying to place the largest turbines ever built in an area that is too populated. The setbacks would not be a problem if that weren’t true.
There are communities and even countries that have setbacks in excess of a mile to protect their populations; these setbacks pale in comparison. Not to mention the increasing number of communities that are now actually banning these projects altogether, due to the overwhelming and negative effects they have. If only we had that right! In fact, the only places that have industrial wind turbines without complaints from nearby residents are those projects not near residents!
When wind companies say that there are few complaints at most wind projects, it is because most of them are sited in sparsely populated areas like North Texas and Iowa. Rural New York is 20 times more populated than those areas. In projects that are in more populated areas, guess what? There are complaints and lawsuits over the negative impacts. Frankly, in light of that, I wish the setbacks were further.
It’s time for Apex to acknowledge its mistake: It chose an area that is too populated, an area rich in wildlife, natural scenic beauty and tourism; a place too close to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station; and a place in the middle of one of the largest migratory bird flyways in North America. It is time they listened to five different surveys, two town elections and the resolutions passed by three counties and two town boards.
It is time to heed the concerns expressed by the American Bird Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Orleans County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, the Hawk Migration Association of North America, the Niagara County Board of Health, the Genesee-Orleans Board of Health, the Rochester Birding Association, the Genesee Valley Audubon Society, the Federation of Monroe County Environmentalists, the Nature Conservancy, Mercy Flight, the Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce and the Western New York delegation of the New York State Senate and the House.
It is time to leave.
Donn Riggi resides in Lyndonville.