FARMERSVILLE — The results of the Farmersville wind survey are a victory for opponents of the proposed Alle-Catt Wind Farm, Farmersville United president Mark Heberling says.
The results of the survey by the Farmersville Town Board showed 195 were opposed to the project, 139 were for it and 41 were undecided. There were 375 total responses.
The 195 who opposed the wind project represent 52 percent of the respondents, those in favor, 37 percent, and undecided, 11 percent.
Farmersville Supervisor Robert Karcher called the results “about even” and noted there were a large number of undecideds. “Being almost half and half, it’s going to be divided” no matter what the town board decides, he said Thursday.
But Haberling sees it differently.
“This is a victory,” he said. “Our hearts knew the survey would inform the Farmersville Town Board as to which direction the wind is blowing — and that is decidedly away from supporting Invenergy’s Alle-Catt industrial wind project.”
Karcher said the town board would review the survey results at its reorganization meeting Monday night. “We haven’t gotten together since the last meeting,” he said.
“It was pretty close,” Karcher continued. “I felt a lot more people were for it.” If you add in the undecideds it was almost half supporting the wind turbines, Karcher explained. “Remarks have to be examined too,” he added.
Heberling said “town board members with a financial interest in this project” continue to disregard public sentiment against the project, which would include 23 600-foot wind turbines in the town.
“The survey was not perfect, but I think it was an attempt by two town board members to end the speculation about whether the project enjoys widespread support, as Alle-Catt continued to claim, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary,” Heberling said. “The public hearings on the wind law in May and October both turned out record crowds against the proposed wind law and Alle-Catt.”
Haberling suggested the survey would have been a landslide vote against Alle-Catt if it were done on a town resident, “one person-one vote,” basis. Only about 50 of the more than 350 Farmersville United members received a survey, he said.
Ginger Schroder, a town resident and attorney representing Farmersville United and other citizen groups opposing Alle-Catt, said, “Only taxpayers were surveyed — not residents, and only one taxpayer was surveyed per taxpaying address so large families got shorted.”
Amish members of the community total more than 125, but received only 11 surveys to register their concerns. The Amish, who have large families, “are totally opposed to this project,” Schroder said.
“Despite the survey’s flaws, it is not surprising that opposition to Alle-Catt still came out well ahead,” Schroder said. “The tenor of the community is definitively anti-project.”
Barry Yavenery, a Farmersville resident who has changed his mind from undecided to opposed to the wind turbines, said that while he is in favor of renewable energy, his research and what he called “very disturbing” connections between town officials and Invenergy “have left a sour taste in my mouth.”
The proposed 50 dBA noise limit for the Alle-Catt Wind Farm project “exceeds the recommendations of the World Health Organization,” Yavenery said.
The town board should be concerned “with the well-being, the health and safety of their constituents,” he said. “I don’t see the community doing better” because of this. “I hope common sense will prevail here.”
Karcher said the survey will be reviewed, including the comments many residents included besides checking boxes on whether they thought setbacks were enough and if they favored the project or not.
Asked to comment on the survey, Invenergy spokesperson Valessa Souter-Kline said, “We appreciate the consideration that the town board is giving the Alle-Catt Wind Farm and applaud the many ways they are seeking public input. … Invenergy is aware that some residents found the wording of the survey questions confusing and were unsure of their response. However, we are very confident there is strong support the project given the more than 200 letters that have been submitted to the Farmersville Town Board in favor of the Alle-Catt Wind Farm.”
The Alle-Catt Wind Farm would cover five towns — two in Cattaraugus County, Farmersville and Freedom; Centerville and Rushford in Allegany County and Arcade in Wyoming County.
It would be built at a cost between $500 million and $600 million and generate 380 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 148,000 homes.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)