Cortland County Lawmakers Deem Windmill Environmental Document Inadequate, Project May Be Finished
Cortland County lawmakers have deemed the draft environmental impact document for a planned industrial wind farm that is looking to locate in the area is inadequate for public review and comment, potentially killing the project once and for all.
In a 14 to 4 vote last lawmakers resoundingly rejected T-C-I Renewables preliminary environmental review, with many legislators raising concerns that the document needs more work, particularly with respect to the projects potential impacts on the County’s new emergency radio system.
It was standing room only last night at the special legislative session, several residents both in support and against the project attended. About a dozen people addressed the legislature prior to the vote; most of the speakers were critical of the pressure T-C-I was placing on the county to release the draft environmental impact statement for public review.
Despite recommendations from the county’s hired engineer and outside legal counsel who both said the document is sufficient and is ready to be released to the public and other interested agencies for comment, a majority of lawmakers feel the report is incomplete and needs more work.
T-C-I has been working for the past five years to put this $200 million dollar project together; it calls for the construction of nearly 50 500-foot tall wind turbines in the Towns of Truxton, Solon, Homer, and Cortlandville.
Legislator Kathy Arnold who urged fellow legislators to send the document back for further review has found several issues in the report. Arnold points to a number of inconsistencies in the document, missing studies, and a lack of detail as areas that need to be addressed before the draft document is released.
Legislative Chair Mike Park voted to release the document, he points out that releasing the report is not a final approval of the project and that decision will ultimately rest with the four towns. Park says T-C-I can come back with a revised impact statement.
T-C-I project manager Gareth McDonald says at this point he believes the project is finished because the company will not be able to meet regulatory milestones and will likely miss out on renewable energy subsidies that are critical for the project. McDonald says his company has spent over a million dollars on the development so far, but that investment pales when compared to what the community will miss out out by losing this development.
McDonald said he and his company would evaluate what to do now, he would not rule out the potential of lawsuits against the county.
Project opponents like Mike Barylski of Cortlandville were pleased the legislature voted against releasing the report, Barylski faulted T-C-I for attempting to rush the process due to its poor planning.