SACKETS HARBOR — Opponents of the proposed Galloo Island Wind Farm challenged the schedule, environmental studies and placement of the on-island facilities Monday morning during a public hearing on the site plan.
The hearing, held by the Hounsfield Planning Board, attracted about 50 people. Upstate NY Power Corp. is seeking site plan approval for the 252-megawatt, 84-turbine project. Thirteen people spoke on the $500 million plan for infrastructure on the island, eight were against the project or plan as its stands.
John P. Gaus, who owns land in Hounsfield and works in renewable energy development, said the town should require written guarantees on a number of issues, including job numbers, a less intrusive lighting plan, exclusion of expansion into the water and a state environmental quality review document that "complies with the law." A SEQR should include the cumulative effects of other wind farms in the area, including the recently announced offshore wind project being considered by the New York Power Authority.
"If not, the town will get sued," Mr. Gaus said.
Several Hounsfield residents did not agree that the Planning Board should be responsible for cumulative effects.
"This plan should stand on its own merit, not on all the other wind farms in the area," Peter R. Daly said. "Each one will have to go through its own review."
Albert H. Bowers III, Chaumont resident and co-chairman of the Coalition for Preservation of the Golden Crescent, questioned the accuracy of the noise study included in the site plan. It was done by Tech Environmental Inc., Waltham, Mass.
"To say this study is inadequate is the kindest thing we are able to say about it," he said. "The authors assume a preposterous sound level in the quiet rural area of Point Peninsula of 50.7 decibels and on this basis conclude that noise from turbines will not be a problem."
Moderate rainfall would register a sound level of about 50 decibels, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Other project opponents said it is impossible to separate the generation facility on the island from the transmission line, which is under review by the Public Service Commission.
"The transmission line is the subject of considerable controversy, which reasonably could result in relocation to an alternate route," said John M. Irwin, Clay.
But with the current site plan, a station that connects the collection system to the 230-kilovolt transmission line is near the northeast tip of the island.
If the route is altered as the result of the process with the Public Service Commission, Mr. Irwin said the entire site plan may need to change to move the transition station to the southern end.
"It just seems premature and pointless to evaluate a site plan that is unsettled and highly likely to change," Mr. Irwin said.
Henderson fishing guide Mitchell L. Franz asked that the site plan, if approved, keep the shore-dinners location for eating the day's catch near the northeastern end of the island at a bay called North Pond. He also suggested the Planning Board require the developer to make Gill Harbor a safe harbor and rehabilitate the former Coast Guard station, owned by Department of Environmental Conservation.
Other speakers argued over whether wind was an efficient energy source and worth the investment.
The Planning Board will accept written comments until 4 p.m. Jan. 4, addressed to Kathy Snyder, Town of Hounsfield Planning Board, c/o Diane Nier, Clerk, Town of Hounsfield Municipal Office, 18774 County Route 66, Watertown, N.Y. 13601.
The site plan and draft environmental impact statement are available for viewing at the town office from noon to 6 p.m. weekdays, except Thursday, Friday, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.
Jefferson County Planning Board, which must review the planned wind farm, does not have the site plan scheduled for its next meeting Dec. 29, said Donald R. Canfield, director of the county Planning Department.
The county Planning Board has not yet set a meeting on the site plan. Mr. Canfield said the department has been waiting for the final environmental impact statement, which should soon be released by the state DEC.
The town Planning Board is tentatively scheduling a meeting on the site plan for 10 a.m. Jan. 9. The Town Council must wait for a 10-day public comment period on the final statement before making any decisions on the site plan.