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In 2013, Apex Clean Energy (a Charlottesville, Virginia-based renewable energy developer) quietly began approaching farmers and landowners in the rural, pristine towns of Yates and Somerset, New York to sign leases for an Industrial Wind Energy Project.
Historically, Yates and Somerset have always been rural, farming communities on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. Residents of these towns as well as most of rural Western New York are fiercely self-reliant folks that bristle at any governmental agency telling them what is best for their communities.
Nevertheless, Apex covertly imposed itself on the communities of Yates and Somerset in 2013 with the proposed Lighthouse Wind Project. This project is a massive 201 MW, 47 wind turbine installation currently being discussed with the New York State Department of Service (NYSDPS) under the New York State Article 10 Administrative Law.
Article 10 was enacted by New York State Governor Cuomo in 2011 to meet a 50/30 initiative that would require New York to generate 50% of its energy via renewable sources by 2030.
As the Towns of Yates and Somerset became aware of the project in October 2014 (twelve months after leases began to be signed), a massive opposition to the project began in these towns that has grown dramatically over the ensuing six years.
Not only has the opposition force known as Save Ontario Shores (SOS) grown in size and strength, both Yates and Somerset Town Boards have remained unanimously opposed to APEX’s Lighthouse Wind Industrial Wind Turbine Emplacement Project.
Our towns were, are and will continue to remain fully and fervently opposed to Apex’s imposition on our communities. Clearly, given the strength of local laws and our “no Payment in Lieu of Taxes” (PILOT) resolution, the company is hoping that the State will allow waiving of local laws and regulations, as well as local constituent protections so that they overrun our towns with their unwanted and unwarranted Lighthouse Wind Project.
Due to our successful opposition, Apex informed their leaseholders in early 2019 that an Article 10 application would not be filed in 2019. Imagine, therefore, our collective dismay at Apex statements in the January 16, 2020 edition of Lockport New York Union Sun and Journal: “Apex…does not have an update as to whether it will submit an application in 2020.”
My question to the readers:
If the town where you choose to live your life is threatened by an industrialization project that will directly impact your health, livelihood, property value and environment, would you not be at least anxious about these proposed changes to your very quality of life? Now imagine that this question has hung over your town for the last six years with no end in sight, due to developer’s self-interest and State disinterest?
This is where we are in Yates and Somerset and enough is enough.
We call on APEX to:
1. Immediately withdraw the Lighthouse Wind Project (NYSDPS Matter: 14-F-0485) from the NYSDPS Article 10 process.
2. Immediately withdraw the Lighthouse Wind Project from the New York Independent System Operator Project Interconnection Queue.
3. Immediately remove the remaining Meteorological (MET) Tower from the Lighthouse Wind project area.
4. Immediately cancel all leases and pay the leaseholders what they are owed through the end of their lease contracts.
The majority of our town’s constituencies may have been on different sides of this issue with the leaseholders, but we are all neighbors. We have all suffered through this Apex era together and they deserve the lease payments they are owed.
Apex, six years is enough. Time for you to pull the plug on Lighthouse Wind.
Town of Yates
I have concerns about the Trump Administration’s profound and pervasive abuse of power and the Republican’s acquiesce. The White House’s memo, witness testimony, and Mr. Trump’s own public statements confirm that he asked Ukraine’s President Zelensky multiple times to investigate Joe Biden as well as a bogus, Russian-generated conspiracy theory that suggest that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, opposing every U.S. intelligence report.
Witnesses testifying under oath and documentation show that nearly $400 million congressionally appropriated military aid was withheld to benefit the President, and only the President, period. Withholding the aid did not benefit or further U.S. interest. In fact, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told Mr. Trump that releasing the aid was in the U.S. interest, Mr. Trump refused to release the aid.
Republicans refuse to investigate or hold the President accountable for this blatant misuse of funds and violation of law – the Impoundment Control Act.
With the impeachment trial moving to the Senate, the President ordered the killing of Iran General Qassem Soleimani. The killing could have occurred at any time, since Mr. Soleimani never hid his whereabouts.
I believe the that Mr. Trump is trying to start a war as a distraction for his impeachment and help his re-election. General Soleimani was not a rouge actor but a government official of Iran and thus any imminent plans for attacking U.S. targets was approved by Tehran.
The government in Tehran will just appoint a new General and proceed, if such an imminent threat even existed. A major objective of Iran and Russia is to get the U.S. out of Iraq and the President just helped achieve Iran’s and Russian objective. This was done to benefit the President.
With this reckless and capricious act, Mr. Trump weakened the U.S. standing in the world and destabilized the region and furthered Russian and Iranian interest. It is noteworthy that Republicans support this behavior. They support the abuse of power, the lack of oversight, and the lawlessness.
They even support subordinating U.S. foreign interest to that of our adversaries. Congressmen Tom Reed and John Katko should be asked by local reporters to explain their support for this saber rattling before young American lives are at risk. Thank you.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard numerous good reasons for the Town of Yates to abandon its $2.5 million planned expansion of the Yates Town Park.
But there are really 612 exceptional reasons to halt this ill-advised boondoggle – 612 is the current student enrollment at Lyndonville Schools.
As this letter is being written, school officials and the Board of Education are developing the 2020-21 school budget. The gorilla in the room during these discussions is New York’s projected budget shortfall of $6 billion (billion with a B) dollars. One of the biggest items in the state’s budget is state aid to schools. For Lyndonville, state aid is the largest revenue item. Virtually every dollar of lost state aid is replaced by Lyndonville taxpayers.
Town fathers are quick to point out that the bulk of the $2.5 million comes from the state, leaving Yates taxpayers to contribute only $125,000. But on a town general fund budget of about $1.5 million, that’s a big percentage increase in taxes.
Then there’s the increased annual operating expense. Early ballpark guesses are up to the $20,000 range. But with the town’s track record in handling its finances, that number could easily double. (Refer to the blistering October 2018 NYS Comptroller’s audit report on the Town’s poor financial management.)
The Town Board has a “task force” trying to rush through a coherent plan for the $2.5 million endeavor. An expansive pair of piers jutting hundreds of feet into the lake with walkways and navigation lights comes and goes; a concrete kayak launching dock/ramp; an enclosed pavilion with modern rest rooms; hiking trails (originally ten feet wide, then five feet wide, then back to ten feet).
Security? One Town Councilman suggests a state of the art remotely monitored TV spy system. And gates controlling access. The next task force meeting is scheduled at the Town Hall for Monday, February 10, at 5:30 p.m. Do not expect to be able to voice your opinion during this meeting until the meeting is adjourned. A Town Board workshop follows immediately
A public forum to present the plan is currently scheduled for Thursday, February 13. You can view the latest version of the project and hopefully voice your opinion. The Town Engineer has to submit his first report to the state the next day. The Town Board would vote on the project no later than March 16.
Right now, the best thing to do is email the town supervisor at email@example.com. Ask him to put the brakes on this unnecessary project and send that $2.5 million state aid to our 612 students.
Ralph E. Smith
The Cancer Services Program (CSP) of Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming & Niagara County has great news to share with your readers. Some cancers can be prevented! February 4th is Cancer Prevention Day and the CSP wants you to know that regular cancer screening can prevent certain cancers or find cancer early when it’s easiest to treat.
The CSP provides breast, cervical and colon cancer screening to eligible, uninsured New Yorkers. This program is supported by the State of New York because cancer screening works — it saves lives. These cancer screenings are covered by most insurance plans as well, so nearly every person has access to these preventive services.
How can cancer screening prevent cancer? Cervical and colon cancer screening can find abnormal cells that can be removed before they turn into cancer. This actually prevents cancer from starting. And while breast cancer can’t be prevented through screening, a mammogram can find breast cancer early. Early detection of cancer means treatment may be easier and it is more likely to be cured.
Here are some basics about cancer screening:
• All men and women ages 50 and older should be screened regularly for colon cancer. There are several ways to be screened, including a stool test that can be done in the privacy of your own home.
• Women age 50 and older should get screened for breast cancer. A mammogram is the best way to find breast cancer early.
• Women ages 21-65-years-old should get screened for cervical cancer.
Individuals should always talk to their health care providers about personal risk factors (family history, personal history, lifestyle) as some people may need screening at a younger age or more often. Some cancers have multiple types of screening options. The individual, along with their health care provider, can decide which screening option is the best choice.
Uninsured residents of Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming & Niagara Counties can call the CSP at (716) 278-4898 to learn if they qualify for free cancer screening.
Health Educator for Cancer Services Program of Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming & Niagara Counties & Community Partners of Orleans Community Health
Last Friday afternoon a leak was discovered on the transmission line at the corner of Route 31 and Salt Works Road. Monday afternoon a meeting was held to discuss our options of repairing the leak.
Worst-case scenario would have reduced water pressure in the Village of Medina and Town of Shelby with about 85 homes in Shelby without water for up to 12 hours while the leak was repaired. Tuesday all hands were on location and were able to stop leak with minimal interruption in water delivery to the residents.
On behalf of the Medina Village Board I would like to publicly thank the tireless efforts of the employees from the Medina Department of Public Works, the Towns of Shelby and Ridgeway Highway Departments, and assistance from the Village of Albion, Orleans County Highway Department, Niagara County Water Authority, Shelby Supervisor Ed Houseknecht, and the owner and employees of Sergi Construction for the effort that was made in stopping a leak in the main water transmission line to the Village of Medina.
This is a great representation of not only shared service but shared knowledge among all that were involved. This joint emergency project saved the Village of Medina thousands of dollars.
Many people are not aware when employees go above and beyond their daily responsibilities. The dedication shown Tuesday should not go unnoticed. Once again thank you for your effort.
Village of Medina
In regards to the $2.5 million state grant awarded for the Yates Town Park, who pays for the following:
1. The initial purchase of the property for the Town of Yates Park? Taxpayers
2. The clearing of the property and landscaping for construction of the park? Taxpayers
3. The barbecue pits, picnic tables, open pavilion, parking lot, port-o-potties? Taxpayers
4. Maintenance of grounds from May to November at $10,000 per season? Taxpayers
5. The reclamation of the shoreline (p.s. this was the most responsible expenditure)? Taxpayers
6. The projected enhancements to the park at a cost of $2.5 million? Taxpayers
7. The maintenance of the kayak launch, playground, walking path, new pavilion, etc.? Taxpayers
8. Who should stand up and say no more? Taxpayers
(Monies received from NYS grants are still out of taxpayers’ pockets.)
The staff of Community Action, the Board of Directors, and the hundreds of families who received a holiday basket wish to express our sincere appreciation and thanks to all the wonderful and caring individuals who assisted our agency this holiday season.
The joy of helping less fortunate families receive a holiday basket filled with food and toys for their children, giving a single individual food and personal items and the smiles, the tears, the hugs, and the thanks were all made possible through the generosity of businesses, civic groups, churches, service organizations, schools, private individuals, people who donated through the angel trees, Albion FFA who organized a food drive with close to 42,000 pounds of food, people who sent money donations and adopted families, and businesses who participated in adopting children.
We also want to thank the children in our school system who helped pack baskets, Albion Baptist Church for use of their church for toys, and the many volunteers who sorted toys and food to give less fortunate families the joy of the holiday season.
Thank you to all the people who donated money to our Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign, the businesses where we had kettles, the bell ringers, and our wonderful coordinators who made it possible to raise $23,576.10 this year.
Through all of you we were able to assist 312 families in Central and Eastern Orleans County.
Community Action could not have done what we did without the wonderful caring people who stepped up and assisted us in making the holidays brighter.
We wish you all a wonderful and safe 2020.
Annette Grillo Finch
Director of Community Services for Community Action of Orleans and Genesee, and Salvation Army Treasurer
Emergency Services case manager for Community Action
Mr. Fine mentions the Russian stock market has benefited from the recent events in Iraq. What he failed to mention is the Russian GDP peaked in 2013 at 2,297 billion US dollars. The current level is less than 1,700 billion US dollars.
This compares to the US GDP which is over 21,000 billion. I don’t believe our current President was in office in 2013. Much of the Russian decline is caused by falling oil prices.
Technology and changes in regulatory requirements have made energy more affordable thus weakening countries that have commodity-driven economies. Middle East tension impacts energy but not to the level it was in the past.
The purpose of this letter is to express my complete and utter dismay regarding the proposal of a solar farm (totaling 11,000 solar panels) with a large lithium battery storage unit at Swett Road. There are several factors that I hope would be considered in regards to this monstrosity!
Our property is on Swett Road and is by the property where the solar farm is being proposed. In fact, my husband’s family once owned the very land the current owner is offering to lease to this solar panel company. We have resided in our home for the last 12 years. Our home was built in 1870 and is considered to be a family homestead.
Many family heirs were born and raised in this house, including my mother-in-law. We are raising our children in this home, as well. We have put a lot of heart and soul into updating our home, yet keeping some of that old farmhouse character, including the cobblestone foundation known to our area.
We were present at the initial meeting where the idea was proposed, after finding out about this that very same day. My first and immediate surprise was the fact that they are asking for a variance, going from 500 feet to 250 feet. Towards the end of the meeting the Town Board went into a closed session, so the public was asked to leave.
Upon exiting the meeting, there were two representatives from the company. They asked if we had any questions. Several of us stayed and had a discussion with them in the foyer. In the discussion, I asked one of the representatives why there needs to be such a high barrier between the properties and her response was, “Well, it’s electric and it’s highly dangerous.” This clearly is not something that one’s children should be able to walk right up to! That alone is an example of why Ridgeway has put 500 feet into place as the law. Asking for that to be literally cut in half is ludicrous.
In addition, I asked one of the representatives to please share the long-term health effects this may cause, as I heard her at the meeting list positive things about the company, but not one negative effect. She refused to answer. Then, I asked her if these emit radiation. She said household appliances emit radiation. So, we are comparing a mass of 11,000 solar panels to a cell phone, which has already been linked as a cancer-causing agent? I asked her if there has been research done showing such data. She had nothing to say in response to that.
There are several homes in close proximity to this land that would endure such negative effects. In the many solar farm photographs/maps I have seen, most have no residences in the immediate circumference.
Not only am I concerned about the long-term health effects of the families in these residences, but I am concerned about the farm and forest land, as well. There is a large farm adjoining to the west of my property and the property site of the proposed solar panels. This farm may be several hundred acres large. It is sure to reap the negative impacts I keep reading about in regards to mass solar panels. In fact, the land the solar panels would be located on has been very fertile farm land for the past decade.
Also, there is a forest on the northern part of the property of the proposed solar panels. In this forest there is a pond, which would be very near the solar panels. I pray the forest and pond would be left untouched. However, they are sure to reap the negative impacts of the proposed solar panels, too.
The loss of all these acres of land and such negative impacts on the pond, forest land and farm land would surely be detrimental to the wildlife in our area (deer, foxes, Canadian geese, turkey, pheasants, birds, insects, etc.). Other wildlife, including the Earth’s already diminishing number of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds would face adverse effects, too!
Every single animal I have mentioned are animals I can vouch for seeing on or around this property! In fact, when I told my sister, who lives in the south, about this she said, “You mean that land where we see that wonderful night show of fireflies during the summertime will be gone?” I have read several articles, including ones on government websites that express concerns to farm and forest land from mass solar panels.
Further, what transpires if and when this company decides to remove the solar farm. How would the land be decommissioned to a usable state again? What is the negative impact from its removal?
We have several other concerns, as well. These include the fire radius, explosion radius, the glare from the solar panels, the upkeep of the landscaping surrounding the perimeter, how this will affect our property value, the short trees not truly blocking any view especially as you stand and look out our upstairs windows, the possibility of buzzing sounds, drainage, just to name a few.
At a second meeting, we were told that the company withdrew the variance request, and is simply tweaking their design. In asking what the law states, we were told that both the New York state law and local law are very new and vague.
My concerns are now two-fold: 1.) Why are the laws not clear and written succinctly before even entertaining these proposals and 2.) Why are there not laws indicating that these “farms” should not be built on top of residences?
I feel that residents in Ridgeway need to be apprised of this situation. There are several other proposals popping up. How many of these solar farms are there going to be?
If we don’t do something to stop the floodgate, it’s going to be too late! Our town will be surrounded by solar panels! What will this do to the agricultural economy? What about the ecology? We need to band together!
We need to demand the lawmakers make clear-cut laws! There is a public meeting Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall, 410 West Avenue. Please attend this meeting and let our voices be heard.