Roxbury supervisor favors wind power, but will let the process run its course
By Julia Green
More than 20 years of service in the political arena has taught Roxbury Town Supervisor Tom Hynes to let his supporting governmental agencies do their jobs. Although Hynes does not hesitate to express his personal opinion in favor of the installation of a wind farm along the Moresville Ridge when asked, he is content to stay on the sidelines and allow the agencies involved to shoulder the responsibility of the decision-making process.
One of those decision-making agencies, the Roxbury Planning Board, found itself on the receiving end of a fair share of criticism following its acceptance of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) submitted by Invenergy in mid-February ‚Äì a landmark Hynes identifies as simply ‚Äúthe start of a long process.‚Äù
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a lot more to go on, but we have a very good planning board and good members and they put in a lot of time on this without getting any pay. They‚Äôre all dedicated to the community and they all know the community so they‚Äôre working with the information given to them the best they can.‚Äù
Tracking back a few years to when the possibility of such a project was first brought to Hynes‚Äô attention, he says he was somewhat surprised when the energy companies came calling and started the ball rolling.
‚ÄúAt first I was sort of taken aback by it, but as you look at the energy crisis and things like that and I‚Äôve made some trips to look at these farms and been in different states out west where they have them and I was impressed with them. If they can help produce any kind of energy that‚Äôs going to help us, I think they‚Äôre worth looking at.‚Äù
Invenergy wasn‚Äôt the only energy company to express interest in the Moresville Ridge that runs from Stamford to Grand Gorge. There were, according to Hynes, two or three companies that expressed interest, due to the ridge‚Äôs location and wind currents, which make it ‚Äúideal‚Äù for a wind farm. At the time, there was also an area in the Denver-Vega area that was being considered. Ultimately, however, the other companies who had been considering siting a wind farm on the Moresville Ridge moved on to other projects, leaving Invenergy as the sole energy company still pursuing the project.
They came to us
‚ÄúThe [company] that‚Äôs with us now is sold on that mountain to put turbines on that ridge,‚Äù Hynes said. ‚ÄúWe didn‚Äôt choose the company. They came to us and came to Stamford and showed their interest and spent a lot of energy on trying to get the project going. They‚Äôve opened up an office in Stamford so people can visit with them and discuss the project, been to town board meetings‚Ä¶ they‚Äôre trying to keep an open dialogue with the people.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôve done it before and I think they know what people‚Äôs problems are. The gentlemen I‚Äôve talked to are very informative and willing to talk and discuss issues with people. They wouldn‚Äôt have put an office there if they didn‚Äôt want people to come and talk to them.‚Äù
Still, Hynes acknowledges that the project is not without its critics ‚Äì a group that includes members of his own family.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt try to press my views on anybody. I have my views and if people express something different that‚Äôs fine with me. A lot of folks are for them and some are dead against them,‚Äù he said, though he adds that he‚Äôs been pleasantly surprised by the amount of positive feedback from local residents, particularly as the project has progressed.
‚ÄúWe had the local law and had a lot of people opposed to them, but since then more information has been out on them, more people have made trips to see them, and we‚Äôre getting better feedback now.
‚ÄúSome of the issues [critics] bring up are so far-fetched that they‚Äôre not worth repeating, but anything you go to do, whether it‚Äôs cell towers or locating sewer power plants, people don‚Äôt want those things by them. No matter what you do, you‚Äôre going to have the pros and cons and that‚Äôs something you have to work with.‚Äù
Hynes also acknowledges the fact that while some Roxbury residents who are opposed to the Moresville Project may be in favor of the technology, they simply do not want to look at the turbines on a daily basis, a trend coined ‚ÄúNIMBY‚Äù ‚Äì an acronym for ‚ÄúNot in My Back Yard.‚Äù
‚ÄúThey believe in the cause, but they just don‚Äôt want to look at them, and that happens. I was on the county board and we tried to site a dump, and we need one, but who wants one in their back yard? And in Delaware County there aren‚Äôt too many places to put one. People want to get rid of their waste but don‚Äôt realize you need the space to do it.‚Äù
The positives, in Hynes‚Äô eyes, outweigh the negatives. ‚ÄúThere will be benefits to different organizations, the county would get some benefits, some local entities would benefit from it, I think you‚Äôre looking at some tourism dollars‚Ä¶ people travel to see different things. I think there‚Äôd be a benefit to that, too. We‚Äôve had a small discussion about the financial benefits of the package but we haven‚Äôt made anything definite yet. Those would be worked on in the near future, actually.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt see anything majorly negative about it. We look back to when people put developments in ‚Äì people didn‚Äôt want the developments, they didn‚Äôt want farms broken up, but it happened and things went on. It‚Äôs no worse than putting in electric lines throughout the area. You have visual effects. People don‚Äôt like to look at those things either, but it happens.‚Äù
Still, according to Hynes, it‚Äôs far too early to predict what will come to pass with the public comment phase of the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process.
‚ÄúYou never know what people will have to say in a public hearing until you go through the whole procedure,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúWe just have to wait until the planning board goes through the procedures. They have expert people working on it, so I think we just have to wait and see what the end result is.‚Äù
Would he dare to hazard a guess?
‚ÄúI wouldn‚Äôt dare venture,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúI wouldn‚Äôt dare venture.‚Äù