Citizens opposed to Parishville and Hopkinton wind turbines vent PILOT, tax and lease agreement concerns to legislators
By MATT LINDSEY
CANTON -- Members of the Concerned Citizens for Rural Preservation attended a St. Lawrence County Legislature meeting Monday to dispute claims made by an environmental health scientist and business developer relating to proposed wind turbines.
Four community members, Will Dailey, Lucia Dailey, Gary Snell and Lori Witherell all spoke at the meeting during a public comment period disputing claims made by Avangrid associates Christopher Ollson, an environmental health scientist, and Scott McDonald, a business developer.Ollson and McDonald made the presentation to legislators March 27.
Avangrid, a subsidiary of Iberdrola, is heading the North Ridge Wind Farm which calls for about 40 wind towers, about 500 feet high, to be constructed on land in Hopkinton and Parishville.
The concerned citizens group opposes claims made that property values do not decrease when a wind farm moves into an area. They also say Avangrid employees have had contact with school and town officials relating to Payment in Lieu of Tax (PILOT) contracts versus taxes. Other concerns were clauses contained in lease agreements and wind power taking money away from the Robert Moses Power Dam.
Will Dailey expressed concerns about a confidentiality clause and right to terminate clause he read in a lease between a landowner and Avangrid.
He told legislators that should landowners wish to complain publically about issues (such as noise, visual impairment or flickering the light), that they (landowners) would have to submit complaints directly to Avangrid before it could be printed for the public to see.
“You should read the lease agreements – they are a hoot,” Dailey said in an interview with North Country This Week April 5. His wife, Lucia, was also interviewed.
He says the agreements do not allow landowners to terminate their lease, but includes the option for the wind company to do so.
Mr. Dailey says an Amish friend of his bought land a few years ago that had a lease agreement. The Amish man was allegedly told by an Avangrid representative that he could in fact get out of the agreement, a contradiction of what his agreement state.
“I don't know if all of these leases are the same,” Mr. Dailey said. “Neighbors should be getting together to discuss the leases and I am not sure that is happening.”
Mr. Dailey’s wife, Lucia, says claims that wind farms do not decrease property values are false.
“They say there is no decrease – but when property values are going up everywhere else and remaining the same near wind farms – that shows property values decrease near wind farms,” she said.
So although property values may not decrease on paper, with other property values rising in other parts of the state, land near wind farms does not increase in value at the same rate, according to studies the Dailey’s have read.
The Concerned Citizens for Rural Preservation are receiving help from other towns, including Vermont, Massachusetts and across the state, who have challenged wind farms or who are facing the same situation now.
“Other communities (that have wind farms) are coming to us with information about the health effects from the turbines,” Mrs. Dailey said. “A couple in Vermont were forced to abandon their home because they couldn't stand them anymore.”
She also said people from nearby Chateaugay have approached the group warning them about property values. The couple claims that they have been unable to sell their home for anything close to what they put into it, all because of wind turbines in the area..
Mrs. Dailey says that Avangrid officials have informally contacted local officials about PILOTS. According to Mrs. Dailey, Avangrid representatives stated they have not had contact with local officials.
She says Parishville Town Supervisor Rodney Votra said he was approached about PILOTS. He allegedly made the comment at a town hall meeting.
“We are pretty sure,” Avangrid has had private, individual meetings with the superintendent and the Hopkinton town supervisor, she said.
Mrs. Dailey said she believes school and town officials saw PILOTS as free money if the project does happen. She says information they’ve gathered shows that PILOTS would not provide the same financial gain for the area as taxes would.
Staying with the financial impact on the region, Mrs. Dailey says wind turbines would have an impact on the Robert Moses hydropower dam in Massena.
Mrs. Dailey says she was going door-to-door discussing wind power and a power worker told her the power dam would have to cut back its production so it would not overload the grid.
She says studies have shown that wind turbines generally produce just 20 to 25 percent of their capacity. “It is unreliable and not that efficient.”
“Why take on a project that pays taxes to basically offer a subsidy to the wind company,” Dailey asked.
Mr. Dailey said it was “nice of the legislators to put up with the public coming to meetings.” “I am hopeful they (legislators) will bring themselves up to speed.”