CHAUTAUQUA - Juwi Wind is expected to erect a tower to measure wind volume by week's end at Thayer and Dean roads.
The special-use permit the German company sought to put up the tower was approved during a recent Chautauqua Town Board meeting.
The 60-meter silent tower that will not have lighting will measure wind speeds for one year to determine the feasibility of a wind farm at the location, where 25 to 40 wind turbines could eventually be placed, said Dick Hanson of Juwi Wind during the board meeting. He said the company has leases for about 750 acres of the 5,000 or more that would be needed for the wind farm and is in discussion with other landowners for the remainder of land needed.
The board's approval did not come without some residents voicing concern including that of a town of Portland woman who voiced opposition to the plan, stating it would necessitate the cutting of trees, along with the use of federal money, which she said area Amish would oppose.
Hanson said the process for a farm would be a long one with the measuring tower all that was to be voted on recently. He said there are federal tax incentives for a wind farm but nothing the landowners would directly see. He said underground cabling or other operations could work to address Amish concerns.
While another resident said the measuring tower will put the town on "the leading edge of a nasty process" that could pit neighbor against neighbor due to quality of life, health, aesthetic and wildlife consequences of a farm, others favored evaluating wind speeds.
David Hindman, on whose land the tower would sit, questioned where the town would be if it does not progress and try something new.
"Let's get off of dead center," he said, adding if someone did not invent the wheel, people would still be walking everywhere.
Councilman David Ward said the town should "walk into this very carefully," with other town officials stating they feared state law would allow the state to dictate to them how to handle the proposal if they did not take their own measures. Supervisor Don Emhardt said that could also mean the state would get money the town may otherwise. He said if the town does not move forward with the project, he fears "the state will move forward for us."
Resident Sue Farnham said she has been approached to lease land, thinking it is not a bad idea to look to the future, with another neighbor agreeing, especially in light of economic conditions.
Prior to giving approval for the tower, town officials asked wind company representatives to put funding in place so the town could take the tower down if not used in two years.