Opinion: Do not let guard down with wind companies, Concerned Citizens for Rural Preservation says
Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 8:59 am

To the Editor:

To our neighbors in Hopkinton and all surrounding towns: We're not out of the woods yet!

After so many difficult meetings, disappointments, and detours, those of us who are skeptical of the North Ridge Wind Project are warily watching for the next episode of this real life drama. We have learned from experience not to trust the words or actions of the industrial wind developer.

So we were not surprised that two days before the April 26 re-vote on the 2018 Hopkinton Wind Law, one of their attorneys sent a letter to the town board. In it he called for a cancellation of that meeting and changes in the wind law to meet Iberdrola's demands including increased sound levels; decreased setback requirements; wind overlay expansion south of Rt. 72; oh, and by the way, the maximum height of the turbines would have to be 600' (not the 500' turbines they repeatedly claimed).

The re-vote meeting was held as scheduled, and the four voting town board members passed the law as written by the Wind Advisory Board. However, mere moments later, one town board member read a statement mentioning that he and another member would like to "change a few selections, er, uh, few sections, for example the setbacks and south of 72."

Iberdrola has attempted to write the wind laws to suit their purposes from the very beginning of this proposal, pushing for louder sound levels, longer construction hours, and smaller setbacks, especially from roads, wetlands, state forests, hunting camps, and other dwellings "not connected to public utilities."

Unfortunately, we are losing faith in the integrity of some of our neighbors and elected officials. We were appalled when another town board member started nominating candidates for the local Ethics and Wind Advisory Boards at the April 16 meeting. This individual is the subject of an unresolved Ethics complaint and has a well-documented conflict of interest concerning the Wind Project. Who can deny that this developer, and their proposed project, has brought "greed, distrust, and corruption" to this community? (NCNow letters 02/26/18).

As long as the leases remain, the threat remains. Some are as yet unrecorded with the county. There is no local public record of "Wind Project Neighbor Agreements;" which, like turbine leases, remove setback restrictions and "run with the land," permanently becoming part of the deed. Even if Iberdrola decides not to build this project, these leases and agreements could be sold to others for another project or purpose. The law must stand to give residents at least some protection.

We are now cautiously viewing new proposals for industrial scale solar energy projects in our area. Even these have serious drawbacks and considerations, such as loss of prime farmland and large loud inverters.

We would urge the Town of Hopkinton as well as all other towns without zoning in both St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties to draft Land Use Plans and protect your residents and taxpayers from the discord, disruption, and dilemmas we are experiencing.

Although we are pleased that Hopkinton finally has an updated wind law, we will not be letting down our defenses until Iberdrola cancels their leases and "Wind Project Neighbor Agreements," removes the "met towers," and leaves for good!

Concerned Citizens for Rural Preservation