A GoFundMe page has been created to raise $50,000 to help pay for an appeal of the New York Siting Board’s decision to permit the proposed $550 million Alle-Catt Wind Farm across 30,000 acres in northern Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.

The GoFundMe page was created earlier this month by Jeff Tutuska of Centerville’s Concerned Citizens.

According to Stephanie Milks, the former president of Freedom United, the effort has raised more than 25% of the goal.

Milks said Alle-Catt opponents have already donated $10,000 to fight the state Siting Board’s decision on June 3 to grant a certificate of need to Alle-Catt.

Another $3,000 was donated by several individuals including $500 each by Milks and the current Freedom United president Denise Willard.

In an email and Facebook post on Monday, Milks wrote, “Please send this to friends and family across all of New York State. (Gov. Andrew) Cuomo wants 70% renewable energy by 2030 and the Alle-Catt project is just the beginning. Let’s set the precedent and stop his unethical actions and the Siting Board’s neglect in its tracks here and now and protect our rights as American citizens and the freedoms for our future generations.

“The fight is not over. It has just begun.”

The link to the GoFundMe page is: https://www.gofundme.com/f/rural-lives-matter

Milks enclosed a link to a Forbes article published last week that details the Town of Freedom’s fight against alternative energy giant Invenergy, which first proposed the 117-turbine Alle-Catt project in 2017.

Turbines nearly 600 feet tall are proposed by Invenergy in the Cattaraugus County towns of Freedom and Farmersville, Centerville and Rushford in Allegany County and in Arcade in Wyoming County.

Several hundred construction jobs would be created while the wind farm was being built, but only about a dozen full-time maintenance technician jobs would be needed to run it.

Citizens groups opposed to Alle-Catt were disheartened with the Siting Board’s granting of a certificate of need earlier this month. The groups fought for protections against the noise, shadow flicker, property devaluation and loss of the area’s rural character.

“In nearly every community that has been negatively impacted by poorly sited wind projects, developers corrupt local officials to suppress public participation, use dishonest practices and heavy handed tactics to force their product with no consideration for those left to live with the aftermath,” Tutuska said. “Our coalition is not done fighting.”

He said that when Invenergy first proposed the project, it claimed only one conflict of interest among town officials in the five towns comprising Alle-Catt. The coalition of residents opposed to the turbines gave the names of 13 others with conflicts.

Tutuska said the coalition asked Cattaraugus County lawmakers to pass a resolution asking the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency not to give tax breaks to All-Catt because it would destroy the county’s rural character.

“Unfortunately,” Tutuska said, “Allegany County has been so shortsighted and inept in attracting business that they are willing to allow Centerville and Rushford to become sacrifice zones where residential and recreational property values plummet and no future development will occur.”

He added: “Residents of this County should be especially concerned that their town is next, as their elected officials are often welcoming these developers with open arms.”

Tutuska said the coalition’s solution is “to appeal the Siting Board’s decision, and we are prepared to file a civil suit against New York state if necessary. We have several very strong arguments and expect a promising outcome. A win in our favor will create precedents that will help other rural New York communities in New York fight the same problem.”

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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