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Town opposes lake turbine sitings

OBSERVER Photos by Braden Carmen Citizens Against Wind Turbines in Lake Erie (CAWTILE) President Patty Meckes, right, and Vice President David Adrian, left, attended the recent Arkwright Town Board meeting to speak against the placement of wind turbines in Lake Erie.

ARKWRIGHT — The town of Arkwright issued a declaration that many municipalities across western New York have shared in recent months at its most recent meeting. While the end result is the same — an official resolution in strong opposition to the placement of wind turbines in Lake Erie — the town’s perspective is unique.

Arkwright is home to wind turbines all throughout the town. While the concept of “not in my backyard” applies to many initiatives such as solar projects and wind turbines across the region and beyond, the Town of Arkwright has a different stance. In their backyard it is fine, just not in their lake.

“It’s just common sense,” Town Supervisor Brian McAvoy said.

Arkwright knows the financial benefit of wind turbines for a municipality. Each year, the Town receives approximately $300,000 as part of an agreement to host the turbines within the limits of Arkwright. Landowners also receive healthy payments from the developers who lease the land for the placement of turbines.

McAvoy reaffirmed his statement from the previous meeting that the Town is in favor of renewable energy, including from wind turbines. He also noted that the Town’s financial benefit for its residents has allowed the Town to pursue its building projects and has the Town’s finances in good shape.

McAvoy believes many other municipalities across the state could be in favor of wind turbines “in their backyard” as well, but placing them in Lake Erie instead eliminates that opportunity. He called the pursuit of placing them in Lake Erie “a cash grab” by the developers who seek to avoid the hassles and costs of placing them on land. In Lake Erie, rather than paying to lease the property and to receive permission to install wind turbines on land, they could be placed off the shoreline, at some cases only several miles into the lake.

Citizens Against Wind Turbines in Lake Erie (CAWTILE) President Patty Meckes and Vice President David Adrian attended the recent Arkwright Town Board meeting to discuss the issues they see with the placement of wind turbines in the lake. Representatives from CAWTILE have been visiting meetings across the region for months asking for resolutions in opposition to the proposed legislation to place turbines in the lake.

Like Adrian did a few months prior in Hanover, he presented the Arkwright Board with reasons to oppose the proposal. His main concern is disturbing the status of the lake and the sediments below the surface. As an aquatic biologist, Adrian spoke to how zebra mussels filtered the waters of Lake Erie in the past. In doing so, the harmful materials in the waters were concentrated at the bottom of the lake. Disrupting the sediments at the bottom of the lake could negatively impact the quality of the water, which is consumed by more than 11 million people each year.

Adrian also mentioned the added pollution to the water from microplastics that are deposited into the lake from the blades of the wind turbine eroding over time, as well as the impact on birds and fish. He also discussed the visibility of the turbines and how it will negatively impact the aesthetics of the region, but that impact was low on the list of concerns for the Arkwright Town Board.

“It shouldn’t even get that far,” Town Board member Polly Gambino said. She noted that the sediment disruption at the bottom of the lake is reason enough to oppose the placement of wind turbines in Lake Erie. “It’s just common sense, not in the lake.”

The Town Board unanimously voted in favor of a resolution in opposition of the placement of wind turbines in Lake Erie, while also highlighting the Town’s support of wind turbines and renewable energy in other ways. The Board’s unique perspective was appreciated by Meckes and Adrian, who were given a copy of the resolution to share with their next stop on the tour across the region asking for similar declarations. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Sen. George Borrello, and Congressman Nick Langworthy were among the many recipients on the mailing list to receive a copy of the resolution.

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