WCPA pleased with comments on wind project

By Julia Green
The majority of comments submitted to the Roxbury Planning Board in response to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Moresville Wind Project support the Western Catskill Preservation Alliance’s (WCPA) assertion that the project is impossible as it is currently outlined, according to Ron Karam, president of the WCPA.
Those comments, which were presented to the planning board over the past several months as part of the SEQR process, were recently made public via the Town of Roxbury Web site.
“The WCPA is pleased with the DEIS comments submitted by the various state and local agencies,” Karam said in a statement. “Each of these organizations are highly critical of the DEIS and Invenergy for submitting an incomplete and poorly prepared DEIS, thus validating what the WCPA has been saying since the DEIS was rushed to approval earlier this year.”
The WCPA highlighted five of what it called the “major problems” with the document, including: “the lack of a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan; a poorly prepared bird and bat analysis; an incomplete and poorly prepared visual impact analysis; an unacceptable hydrology, geology and soil analysis which was based on erroneous information; and an incorrect and conflicting noise analysis.”
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was asked to assist in reviewing the DEIS with particular attention to the topography, hydrology and geology of the area as well as the Storm Water Pollution Protection Plan (SWPPP). In its comments regarding the DEIS, the agency cited “the lack of details provided in terms of the overall access to the ridgeline” as the greatest concern, and added that additional studies may be necessary to determine the feasibility of installation at the proposed site.
“We don’t have any doubt that we can get materials up to the top of the ridge, but that’s a question we will answer as we respond to questions from the planning board,” said David Groberg, vice president of development for Invenergy.
Riverkeeper, an independent environmental organization, cited a number of concerns related to the DEIS and the extent of its impact on the NYC Watershed, as well as the watersheds of the Schoharie, Pepacton and Cannonsville reservoirs.
“The Stormwater Pollution Protection Plan omits critical information necessary to provide meaningful public input on the project,” the agency said in its comments. “Without this information in the SWPPP it is impossible to determine whether the applicant can or will mitigate impacts to the NYC Watershed. The SWPPP is therefore woefully inadequate.”
Groberg responded, saying that Invenergy believes the issue to be “an issue of timing.”
“We’ve provided a general plan and some criteria and examples of the types of controls you put in, which is pretty standard at this stage in the process. It seems like some folks would like to see fully detailed engineering drawings, which will be prepared. We don’t have any doubt that storm water runoff will be controlled at the site during construction and afterward.”
In a letter to the Roxbury Planning Board, Invenergy responded to some of the comments regarding the perceived impossibility of building the project in the parameters that have been outlined thus far.
“A closer review of the application reveals that of the 17 landowners whose names appear in the WCPA’s submission: two did not sign the document; two stated they may participate; and one subsequently sent a letter to you indicating that he has already signed an agreement with Invenergy and he considers the signature in the book to be a ‘forgery.’”
In response, Karam said, “I made an honest mistake on one landowner’s property that owns many lots and signed a lease on one or two of his lots with Invenergy. I corrected the mistake in writing within a week of submitting the declaration of people against the project. The mistake has zero impact on the WCPA’s position that none of the turbines are feasible due to landowner opposition, which I stand fully behind.”
“Our basic point there is we don’t think that the evidence the WCPA provided in its testimony supports their claims that the project isn’t feasible,” said Groberg. “We have confidence based on agreements already in place and negotiations going on now that we have sufficient landowner support to build the project.”
Other agencies that submitted comments to the planning board included the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT), the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), the Watershed Agricultural Council, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), Frank Lumia, Delaware County Soil & Water Conservation District, the Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York State Department of Public Service.
“It’s a long process, and people want to draw their conclusions now,” Groberg said. “The public comment period gives people a chance to address all of their concerns, and we get a chance to address them. We’re just getting started on our opportunity to address those comments and we’re confident that we can.”
The next step in the process is for the planning board to submit a request to the developer to respond to specific issues they believe to be relevant. Invenergy is still awaiting that request.
The comments submitted to the Roxbury Planning Board on the DEIS are available in their entirety on the Roxbury Web site at www.roxburyny.com/windproject .