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Wind Farm Would Be Visible in Naples

The environmental study for a proposed wind farm in Cohocton says three turbines would be visible from the village of Naples but what that means will depend on the eye of the beholder. UPC Wind Management LLC plans to build a 41-turbine wind farm on Pine Hill and Lent Hill, about 2.3 miles southwest of the village of Naples. The company has also proposed a 17-turbine wind farm for Dutch Hill, near Dutch Hill Road and Atlanta Back Road. Studies for this second project are incomplete, according to Rick Towner, spokesman at UPC Wind’s office in Cohocton. Only the first project will be the subject of a public hearing, set for Thursday, May 25, at 7 p.m. at the Wayland-Cohocton Elementary School, 30 Park Ave. The town Planning Board will take comments on UPC Wind’s environmental impact statement, which outlines the effect the construction and operation of the project could have on the natural environment and the quality of life and character of the town and surrounding areas. A citizens’ group, Cohocton Wind Watch, plans to meet on Thursday, May 18, also at the school, at 7 p.m. Cohocton Wind Watch opposes what it calls the “ill-conceived wind turbine projects in Cohocton and adjacent townships.” The citizens’ group has concerns about the company’s ability to compensate for the negative effects the project could bring, including changes in the water table, erosion, and interference with communication signals. The group argues that the 400-foot turbines will ruin the view, thereby lowering property values. The 26-page Visual Impact Assessment portion of the environmental statement says the turbines would be visible from Reservoir Creek Golf Course, the village and town of Naples, Canandaigua Lake and much of the High Tor Wildlife Management Area. The document describe two types of tests Environmental Design and Research of Syracuse performed on behalf of UPC Wind: computer simulations using maps from the U.S. Geological Survey and balloon tests in which helium balloons were raised to the height of towers at various locations. A panel of three landscape architects was shown the various tests, resulting in the following evaluation for the village of Naples, assuming a person was standing on North Main Street looking southwest: “With the proposed project in place, portions of three turbines can be seen rising above the hilltop in the background. The turbines appear out of place in a traditional small town/village setting. They contrast in line and form with the background hill, and under these lighting conditions, appear dark against the sky. They also now compete with the foreground features for viewer attention. … However, at this distance, their scale contrast is modest and their line and form are not inconsistent with the overhead utilities that already break the skyline. To some…the turbines will represent visual intrusion, while others may view this as an interesting/attractive addition to the background landscape.” The study further notes the sharp disagreement among the architects who evaluated the Naples view: “One panel member indicated that the addition of the turbines changed the small town character of this view (toward a more industrial feel) … However, the other two panel members indicated that the turbines had little or no adverse impact, and in fact had a pleasing sculptural quality.” The Cohocton Planning Board will take input on the project until June 9, then forward it to an engineering firm it has hired to evaluate UPC Wind’s environmental impact statement. The firm will likely request changes. After that, UPC Wind will submit a final environmental impact statement. The Planning Board can then accept it, and move the project forward, or reject it, halting the project at least temporarily. Unlike neighboring Prattsburgh, Cohocton has a wind farm law, adopted earlier this year. Among other things, it requires towers to be at least 1,500 feet from a home. UPC would have to get permits under this local law, as well as state environmental law, before it could build. By LENORE FRIEND / Messenger Post Staff

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