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August 15, 2013

Wind farm approved in disputed vote

(Continued)

By that point in the meeting, three state troopers had arrived at the school, summoned there at the behest of Urtz, who became flustered when several people in the audience loudly jeered him and other board members backing the project.

Rex Seamon, an organic dairy farmer who lives near the property where the turbines would be constructed, said he was disappointed with the planning board members who agreed to sanction the wind farm.

“The main reason we oppose this is health because of what it will do to both humans and livestock,” Seamon said. He said it has been demonstrated that milk production is lowered when cows are in close proximity to turbines, and there is a risk of pollution to aquifers.

As part of the review process, Otsego County Planner Karen Sullivan issued an approval of the project “with modifications,” including one urging town officials to ensure that the wind farm would be consistent with the “scenic byway” designation for U.S. Route 20.

Urtz said the planners had already run the project past state Department of Transportation officials, noting they raised no objections. Urtz also came to the meeting with scenic byway promotional brochure which referred to windmills as “tourism attractions.”

Urtz also noted: “Madison County had turbines on the front cover of their tourism brochure.”

Addressing concerns that the turbines could produce loud noises, board member Cynthia Andela said the developers have agreed to keep the noise level no higher than 40 decibels. She noted 40 decibels has the volume roughly equivalent to “normal living room conversation.”

Sylvester tried to find out what would be the consequence if noise levels are higher.

Said Andela: “If it’s over 40 decibels, the company has to mitigate it. It’s in the contact.”

Andela also said she was supporting the project because of what she called its economic benefits, noting that $150,000 a year would be pumped into the local economy.

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