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July 18, 2013

Hearing set for Richfield wind farm on Monday

Stalled by legal action initiated by opponents, a proposed six-turbine wind farm is moving forward again, and the Richfield Town Planning Board has set a public hearing on the controversial project for Monday night.

The public hearing on the Monticello Hills wind turbines will be held at 7 p.m. at the Richfield Springs Central School off U.S. Route 20 in the village of Richfield Springs.

Monticello Hills is the name given to the project by Ridgeline Energy of Albany. The company’s chief project developer, Patrick Doyle, said: “We’re hopeful they (the planning board members) will reissue the permit” at a board meeting that has not yet been scheduled.

The Planning Board last week authorized the public hearing as well as documents related to the project to be forwarded to the Otsego County Planning Department for a full review. The Planning Department is expected to determine what impacts the wind farm could have on the county, officials said.

A lawsuit filed by 34 residents opposed to the wind farm resulted in the special-use permit, which had been granted by the Planning Board in November 2011, being voided on procedural grounds.

A state appeals court ruled recently that the board violated the town law, because it did not refer the project to the county Planning Department until after a public hearing had been held.

Larry Frigault, one of the organizers of the anti-wind farm group Protect Richfield, said if the Planning Board adheres to the town zoning law, it will spike the project.

“Our zoning doesn’t allow this as a permitted use,” said Frigault, contending the 492-foot-tall turbines would emit loud noise and vibrations and have disturbing flashing lights.

Richfield Town Supervisor Fran Enjem said at a town board meeting that the Planning Board never reached out to him after it had authorized the public hearing for Monday.

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