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Barre

Barre hosts first lighted tractor parade

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 December 2018 at 7:52 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – The newly formed Barre Betterment Committee hosted a lighted tractor parade this evening down Route 98.

The top photo shows a tractor with a large American flag in back. Lamb Farms of Oakfield brought this tractor. There were almost 10 tractors in the debut parade.

The road was lined with lights inside milk cartons.

The parade went from Route 98 at East Barre Road to Maple Street. After the parade cookies and hot cocoa were served at the Barre Presbyterian Church.

Hu-Lane Farms decorated this International Harvester.

Martin Bruning drove a pickup and his kids were in the back with a mini-tractor. They include, from left: Aubrey, Everett and Sylvia.

Panek Farms put lights on this track tractor.

The Jurs family decorated a tractor and trailer and also gave Santa a ride.

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Barre firefighters escort Santa around town this weekend

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 December 2018 at 12:42 pm

Provided photos

BARRE – Barre firefighters are escorting Santa around town this weekend, while Santa delivers presents. This group includes, from left: Brian Neal, Kara Bentley, Ben Flansburg, Santa Claus, Doug Bentley and Brian Bentley.

They are making 10 stops today and 20 visits on Sunday. This is the fourth year the Barre Volunteer Fire Company has given Santa rides around town to deliver presents to families.

Santa holds recently born Landon Flansburg.

The Barre Volunteer Fire Company sent out letters to the Barre community, asking if they wanted Santa to stop by this weekend. Santa will make 30 stops this weekend, traveling by fire truck. Santa gives each kid a toy. (Those presents were dropped off at the Barre Fire Hall by parents or grandparents a few days ago.)

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Town attorney says public vote in Barre about turbines would be ‘meaningless’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 December 2018 at 8:48 am

7-member Siting Board with 5 state agency leaders makes the decision

Photo by Tom Rivers: Lance Mark, the Barre town attorney, responds to a request from  resident to have a public referendum about a proposed wind turbine project.

BARRE – Town Board members were asked on Wednesday to put a proposed wind turbine project on the ballot, so residents could make their opinion known on the 47 turbines that would peak at about 600 feet.

John Metzler said surveys on the project have only included a small percentage of residents, including some respondents who don’t live in the town.

“Let all the people of Barre speak,” Metzler said at the Town Board meeting. “That’s the only way to bring a fair end to this.”

The town hired LaBella to do a survey, which accepted responses until July 27. Of the 290 respondents, 44 percent said they are supportive of the project, while 39 percent oppose it, 8 percent are neutral and 7 percent need more information.

Apex Clean Energy, which is working on the wind turbine project in Barre, also commissioned a phone survey in July which included 170 responses from area residents, with 52 percent stating they support the project, compared to 22 percent who say they oppose it.

Metzler said the surveys are far short of getting the opinion of the entire town, which included 2,025 residents in the 2010 Census.

He asked each of the five board members if they supported having a referendum on the project. Lynn Hill, Richard Bennett and Larry Gaylard responded no, while Tom McCabe said he wanted to check if that is legal. Town Supervisor Sean Pogue said he would instead favor a larger public forum where Apex could bring in experts to answer residents’ questions, similar to an Oct. 2 meeting in Lyndonville for Apex’s proposed Lighthouse Wind project in Yates and Somerset.

Town Attorney Lance Mark said a referendum wouldn’t be binding because the state has created a Siting Board through an Article 10 process that will determine if the projects are approved or not. The Siting Board has been through one application so far and approved a wind turbine project in Chautauqua County.

“It’s meaningless,” Mark said about a referendum. “It doesn’t control the outcome of siting turbines.”

Metzler said a referendum would still be beneficial for residents.

“It’s not a legal requirement,” he said about a public vote. “I’m looking to give everyone a fair voice.”

The seven-member Siting Board has five state representatives including the chairman of the Department of Public Service, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, commissioner of the Department of Health, chairman of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the commissioner of Economic Development.

The Siting Board also includes two representatives from the project area. Robin Nacca of Barre has been appointed to the Siting Board while the other local representative hasn’t been named yet.

Nacca attended Wednesday’s meeting and she said the local sentiment for or against the project is a factor in the Siting Board’s decision.

“The Siting Board has to be unbiased judges and listen to both sides,” she said. “However, the Siting Board doesn’t want to go against the majority.”

Mark agreed the Siting Board will consider community sentiment. He said a citizens’ group, Clear Skies Over Barre, has been recognized by the state to raise concerns from the community.

As part of its preliminary scoping statement for the 200-megawatt project, Apex needed to provide $350 per megawatt or $70,000 in intervenor funds for the local community to hire experts to review the Apex proposal. A judge determined the Town of Barre would receive $40,000 in those funds and Clear Skies Above Barre would have $30,000. That will allow the groups to hire environmental attorneys and experts to review the Apex submission.

Kerri Richardson, Clear Skies president, said Clear Skies wanted $78,000 “to do the job we wanted to do.” The $30,000 has been spent, she told town officials on Wednesday.

She said the town and Clear Skies should have worked together to maximize the funds. The town should be advocating for residents, too, and not expecting Clear Skies to do all of that work, Richardson said.

She told the Town Board she was disappointed it met in executive session on Tuesday with two representatives from Apex. That meeting was only posted on the door of the Town Hall, without many residents knowing the meeting had been called.

Pogue, the town supervisor, was asked by residents what the meeting was about. He said, “negotiations,” and declined to give more details.

“I’m not going to get into it,” Pogue said. “It was an executive session.”

Richardson questioned if it was a legal executive session. If Apex and the Town Board were discussing proposed changes to the town’s zoning for wind turbines, including setbacks, that should have been a public discussion, Richardson said.

Pogue and Mark said if there are any proposed changes in the ordinance there would be a public hearing and residents could provide feedback.

Pogue said the Town Board is pushing to have a draft of a revised wind turbine ordinance done next month, with a public hearing to follow.

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Barre budget lowers town tax rate by 10 cents

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 November 2018 at 9:31 am

BARRE – The Town Board has approved a $2,208,309 budget that reduces the tax rate by 10 cents, from $9.28 to $9.18 per $1,000 of assessed property.

The town tax levy for the general and highway fund barely increased, by less than 0.1 percent or $851, from $923,325 to $924,176.

The budget is $9,452 under the tax cap, according to town officials.

The budget includes the fire protection rate. That is up from $1.21 to $1.26 per $1,000 of assessed property. The contract for fire protection increased from $199,000 to $210,000.

The town’s tax base grew by nearly $1 million, from $99,631,547 to $100,550,534.

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Barre Planning Board recommends town not change turbine ordinance

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 November 2018 at 11:04 am

Current zoning caps turbines at 500 feet, which is shorter than nearly 600-foot turbines sought by Apex

Photo by Tom Rivers: Town Supervisor Sean Pogue said the Town Board will consider revisions to the ordinance for wind turbines.

BARRE – The Barre Town Planning decided on Monday that the town’s ordinance for wind turbines is just fine the way it is.

The Planning Board received input from Apex Clean Energy, Clear Skies Above Barre and other residents on possible changes to the ordinance. The Planning Board was going to weigh all the comments and suggestions and make a recommendation by Jan. 1 for possibly revising the town law for turbines.

The board on Monday deemed the current local regulations to meet the needs of the community and a developer of a large-scale wind-energy project.

The Town Board, however, will now look at all the letters and comments submitted to the Planning Board, and may decide on changes, Town Supervisor Sean Pogue said during Wednesday’s board meeting.

The town law caps the turbine height at no more than 500 feet. That would be too small for Apex, which is proposing 47 turbines that would be nearly 600 feet high, at maximum tip height. The Barre turbines also would likely generate 4.2 megawatts per turbine, nearly triple the power from the models from a decade ago which were about 400 feet high.

Barre adopted its wind ordinance in 2008 when a different developer was looking at the town for a project that didn’t end up materializing. Apex has proposed some revisions to the ordinance “to modernize the technological standards of the law,” said Ben Yazman, Apex project manager.

Many Barre residents also want much far setbacks than the current town law. The current ordinance says the turbines need a property line setback of at least 1.5 times the tip height. That is for the property lines where the turbine is located.

The current ordinance also says the turbines need to be at least 1,000 feet from any existing residential or commercial building.

Apex has agreed to 1,500 foot setbacks from residential buildings. Yazman also suggests 1.5 times the tip height for setbacks from property lines for non-participating property owners, or landowners without an Apex lease.

Kerri Richardson, president of Clear Skies Above Barre, said the setbacks should be six times the turbine height. That would be at least 3,600 feet or more than a half mile for 600-foot-tall turbines.

John Metzler, a vocal critic of the project, also wants a noise ordinance to limit the sound of the turbines to 40 decibels, which is less than the 45 decibel cap right now.

Town Board member Tom McCabe said the board members have reams of information to look over.

“We got to sit down and digest them,” he said about all of the written comments and submissions. “We want to dig into some of this stuff.”

Metzler asked the Town Board to inform the community of any meetings where the board will be discussing possible changes in the zoning ordinance for turbines.

“It’s not because we want to cause trouble it’s because we care about our community,” Metzler told the board on Wednesday evening. “People first has always been our main thing.”

Pogue said no meetings have been scheduled yet.

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Barre welcomes participants in new lighted tractor parade on Dec. 15

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 November 2018 at 9:58 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: This toy tractor is decorated in lights at the Barre Town hall to promote a tractor parade on Dec. 15.

BARRE – The newly formed Barre Betterment Committee is planning a tractor parade on Dec. 15 at 5:30 p.m.

The event will start on East Barre Road at the Root Brothers cold storage building. The procession will then proceed on Route 98 to the Barre Presbyterian Church.

There the community is welcome to join in for Christmas carols, hot cocoa, cider and cookies.

“It’s just to get together to enjoy each other’s company,” Barre Town Supervisor Sean Pogue said on Wednesday during the Town Board meeting.

Th Betterment Committee formed after this summer’s Barre Bicentennial Celebration. The group wants to have more community events.

The committee welcomes participants to light up their tractors for the parade. Residents are also invited to be part of the Betterment Committee.

Kelly Dudley and Cyndy Van Lie Shout are heading the parade. For more information, contact Dudley at 746-1677 or Van Lie Shout at 590-7503

The Barre Betterment Committee has its next meeting at 7 p.m. on Nov. 20 at Van Lie Shout’s house on Route 98.

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Barre Town Board appoints Rick Root to fill justice vacancy

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 November 2018 at 9:05 am

Richard DeCarlo resigned from post after moving to Carlton

BARRE – The Town Board has appointed Rick Root to fill a vacant town justice position.

Root was appointed to a one-year term during a meeting last week. He will begin serving as judge on Jan. 1 in a term that lasts until Dec. 31, 2019. The position will be on the ballot next November.

The board interviewed three applicants for judge. The position was vacated with the resignation of Richard DeCarlo Jr. He resigned on Oct. 1 after moving to Carlton in Orleans County.

That resignation came too late in the election schedule to have the position on the Nov. 6 ballot.

DeCarlo, a Republican, was first elected in November 2013. He won a close election, 213-207, over Root, who ran as a Democrat. Sean Pogue, the current Barre Town Supervisor, also ran for justice in that election and received 122 votes on the Conservative line.

Pogue said Root is now retired after a career in the railroad industry. Root’s late father, Pierson, also was a Bare town justice.

Root resigned as an alternate on the Zoning Board of Appeals to take the position as town justice.

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Barre Planning Board wrestles with revisions to wind energy ordinance

Photos by Tom Rivers: Barre Planning Board members are pictured Monday evening during a meeting a Barre Town Hall. The members include, from left: Jean Depatie, Jean Peglow, Wes Miller, Chairman Tom Keeler, Steve Harling, Kirk Mathes and Kurt Dudley.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 October 2018 at 12:59 pm

BARRE — The Barre Town Planning Board is working to revise the town’s wind energy ordinance, and may make changes to allow turbines taller than the current 500-foot limit. The setbacks from houses and property lines may also be increased.

Apex Clean Energy is proposing a project with 47 turbines. The company wants them to be 600 feet tall at maximum tip height, Ben Yazman, the Apex project manager, told the Planning Board on Monday.

That would be nearly 200 feet taller than most of the turbines in Wyoming County. The Barre turbines also would likely generate 4.2 megawatts per turbine, more than double the power from the models from a decade ago. (The 75 turbines in Sheldon, Wyoming County, that were constructed in 2009 produce 1.5 megawatts each.)

Barre adopted its wind ordinance in 2008 when a different developer was looking at the town for a project that didn’t end up materializing. Apex has proposed some revisions to the ordinance “to modernize the technological standards of the law, and also continue conversations with the town about the details of the wind farm we are working to develop in Barre,” Yazman said.

The town ordinance supports wind energy development, “but it was crafted over a decade ago based on a different set of technical standards that have changed since that time,” he said. “The ordinance also contains some technical ambiguity that is worth reexamination by the board.”

Barre residents concerned about the project also have submitted suggestions that call for far greater setbacks than the current town law.

The Planning Board, led by Chairman Tom Keeler, has set a Nov. 1 deadline for people to submit suggestions about possible changes in the ordinance. Kerri Richardson, president of Clear Skies Above Barre, said the group will be submitting many proposals for the town ordinance. Those suggestions are designed to protect all residents, including the leaseholders, from negative impacts of the turbines.

“Setbacks and noise are our biggest concerns,” she said. “Those are the two things we feel need to be changed to protect the citizens of Barre.”

Keeler said the Planning Board will work to have a revised ordinance to present to the Town Board by Jan. 1. That proposal, if accepted by the Town Board, will be subject  to review by the Orleans County Planning Board and also a public hearing in Barre.

The setbacks are one of the biggest issues for the town to consider, Keeler said.

The current ordinance says the turbines need a property line setback of at least 1.5 times the tip height. That is for the property lines where the turbine is located.

The current ordinance also says the turbines need to be at least 1,000 feet from any existing residential or commercial building.

These 410-foot-high turbines were constructed this year in Arkwright, near Fredonia, in Chautauqua County. This photo was taken on Saturday. That project includes 36 turbines.

Apex has agreed to 1,500 foot setbacks from residential buildings. Yazman also suggests 1.5 times the tip height for setbacks from property lines for non-participating property owners, or landowners without an Apex lease.

A bigger setback would push many of the turbines in the middle of corn fields, he said. Having a smaller setback would allow farmers and landowners to have turbines in hedgerows, Yazman said.

Richardson of Clear Skies says the setbacks should be six times the turbine height. That would be at least 3,600 feet or more than a half mile for 600-foot-tall turbines.

John Metzler, a vocal critic of the project, said the setbacks should be even greater than what Richardson suggested.

“They need to be a mile away for people to be unaffected by these monoliths,” Metzler said. “We’re trying to protect the health and safety of residents, and the property values.”

Kirk Mathes, a member of the Planning Board, also is a leaseholder with Apex. He asked Yazman if the larger setbacks would, in effect, kill the project.

The larger setbacks, at six times the turbine height, would result in fewer turbines and may not make it economically feasible for the developer, Yazman said.

Mathes was chided by resident George McKenna for speaking as an advocate for the project. Mathes, because he stands to gain financially, shouldn’t participate in discussions about the project.

Keeler said the town attorney, Lance Mark, said two of the board members, Mathes and Jean Peglow, can’t vote on the project because it would be a conflict of interest but Mark said they can participate in discussions.

Mathes said he was simply asking a question that everyone was wondering, if the bigger setbacks would derail the project.

Metzler also told Mathes he shouldn’t be speaking at the meetings because of his lease with Apex.

“From the start you’ve done nothing but help Apex,” Metzler told him during the meeting.

• Apex would like to see the maximum impact for shadow flicker increased from 25 hours a year to 30. The 30 hours is the standard for the industry, Yazman said.

If the shadow flicker gets close to exceeding the limit, he said the turbines can be curtailed during those times to reduce or stop the flicker.

In that case, Richardson of Clear Skies said no shadow flicker should be the goal.

“This is our community,” she told the Planning Board. “The decision is in your hands. If the technology is there to better serve the residents of the Town of Barre, then why not?”

• Apex said the current decibel cap of 45, measured 1,000 feet from the turbine, doesn’t need to be changed. There is a provision where the noise limit can go to 51 decibels 10 percent of the time or 6 minutes an hour.

One resident, Nancy Blank, asked the town to lower the decibel limit to 40.

Yazman said Apex is doing two ambient noise studies and the noise issue will be reviewed by the State Siting Board, which includes the commissioner of the state Department of Health.

• The current ordinance says the turbines need to be decommissioned or removed after 180 days of no use. Yazman said the language should likely be modified because “unused” is ambiguous. It doesn’t necessarily mean the turbine has been shut down permanently.

If there is a malfunctioning turbine, it could take two months or more to have parts shipped and repairs made, he said.

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Chamber honors veterinarian in Barre as Business of the Year

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 12 October 2018 at 3:53 pm

Photos by Ginny Kropf: George and Iva McKenna, owners of Country Lane Veterinarian Services on East Barre Road, work together in the business they have run since 1990. The couple’s efforts have earned them the honor of being named Business of the Year by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce.

BARRE – The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce has chosen a Barre couple with a lifelong love of animals as the Business of the Year.

George McKenna grew up on the family farm where and he and his wife Iva run Country Lane Veterinarian Services.

“We milked 35 cows and I didn’t like crop work or machinery repair very much, but I really enjoyed working with the cows,” George said, as he petted his youngest daughter Jenny’s new Bernese Mountain dog during an interview in his office.

The decision to become a veterinarian was probably made the day he and his dad were driving to Batavia for parts and they passed a large dairy farm.

“Dad said that farmer has got it made – one son is a veterinarian,” George said. “I thought, ‘That’s something I’d like to do.’”

He attended Canisius College for two years and applied to Cornell. He was placed on a waiting list. He would apply again and wasn’t accepted until his third try. He got his bachelor’s degree there after two years and then went to Auburn, Ala., where he graduated in 1988.

He and Iva have four grown daughters, all of whom have been involved in their business.

“A lecturer once said if you can fill one scrapbook with thank-you notes, then that’s an accomplishment,” George said. “I have more than 10. Our take on an animal hospital is all our clients are our friends. New clients are just friends we haven’t met yet.”

He and Iva consider their clients very special to them.

“We like to make sure everyone who comes through our door feels welcome, whether it’s a client or an employee,” George said.

A lot of young people who have come to work for the McKennas went on to become veterinarian technicians, and that makes both George and Iva proud.

Veterinarian George McKenna of Albion and his daughter Jenny play with her new puppy, a rare Bernese Mountain Dog.

Country Lane does a lot with service animals, having done fundraisers for them, and they care for the Sheriff’s dog. They also support local baseball and soccer teams.

The business employs six, including the McKenna’s daughter Kerri Richardson, who is their business manager.

George used to treat most animals, but he gave up horses 20 years ago, preferring to focus on small animals, such dogs, cats, cows and pigs.

Iva said they were honored and pleasantly surprised to learn they were being honored by the Chamber of Commerce.

The awards dinner will be Thursday night at White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville.

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2 surveys show more support than opposition for wind energy project in Barre

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 October 2018 at 5:57 pm

BARRE — Two recent surveys of residents in Barre show a proposed wind energy project has more support than opposition in the town.

Apex Clean Energy is proposing a 200-megawatt project with 47 turbines. Apex hasn’t detailed the size of the turbines, but they could top 500 to 600 feet high in the eastern and southern portions of the town.

The town hired a consultant, LaBella Associates, which did a survey for Barre about the wind energy project. The company’s report to the Barre Town Board on Sept. 10 says that the survey was done in June and July. The responses were taken on-line and in person at the Barre Town Hall.

By the survey deadline of July 27, a total of 325 survey submissions (online and hard copies) were received, and 290 (89 percent) submissions were accepted. Removed from analysis were 35 duplicate and invalid submissions, LaBella said.

The company said duplicate submissions were either combined with or replaced the previous submissions. Responses were considered invalid if submitted from respondents who do not reside in Barre or in any of its bordering municipalities. If the respondents indicated they work or own land in Barre, their submissions were accepted regardless of their residence status.

Of the 290 respondents, 44 percent said they are supportive of the project, while 39 percent oppose it, 8 percent are neutral and 7 percent need more information.

Wildlife, property values and roads were the most cited resources of value to the community, according to the survey.

The most pressing concerns involve complaint resolution procedure and decommissioning plans, LaBella said.

Residents also are concerned about potential impacts to tax rates and property values, as well as setbacks from property lines, and TV, cell phone and radio reception impacts.

Other concerns, ranked lower in importance, included roadway deterioration, change in rural character, and change in views from the height of turbines.

A summary version of the survey results is available on the Town of Barre website.

Apex Clean Energy today also announced the results of a survey it commissioned of town residents. Apex hired the public affairs and community outreach firm Cornerstone Solutions to complete its survey.

The survey included 170 responses from area residents, with 52 percent stating they support the project, compared to 22 percent who say they oppose it. Additionally, when respondents who were initially undecided or leaning against supporting the project were provided information about the benefits it would bring the community, 33 percent of them said they were more likely to support the project, Apex said today in a news release.

The phone survey was conducted in July.

“We did not want to release our results sooner, because we did not want to influence the Town of Barre’s survey of a similar nature,” said Ben Yazman, development manager of Heritage Wind. “But now that those results have been released, we thought it might be helpful to let the community know that we found very similar results in a recent survey we conducted to inform our public engagement work.”

Yazman said the company knew from experience it had strong local support for the proposed Heritage Wind project.

“Apex has spent the past few years in Orleans County talking to hundreds of people who have shown significant interest in wind energy,” he said. “This phone survey gave us the opportunity to double-check our understanding by asking a large, randomly selected sampling of local people for their opinion, and we were pleased to see that these results strongly supported our previous assessment.”

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