Shelby resident urges community to speak out on 2 tall turbines proposed for Route 63

Posted 10 September 2022 at 11:30 am


I’m writing to implore as many people as possible to attend the upcoming Shelby Town Board meeting this coming Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. on Salt Works Road in Medina, and I’m also asking that all who attend be brave enough to speak before the meeting begins.

This is an incredibly high ask, I know, but please hear me out. I truly believe everyone in Orleans County will be impacted by this, and especially people who live in the Town of Shelby and the Village of Medina.

I’ve haven’t attended not enough local meetings, for all sorts of good reasons, just like I suppose many of my fellow citizens. And on those occasions when I do make it to one, I sometimes feel really out of place, and I’m afraid of looking foolish and of being misunderstood. So sometimes, I don’t speak up. Part of this is because formal, official meetings usually begin with a firm and decorous reminder that no one may speak at the beginning of the meeting unless it is about an Agenda issue; public comments of a general sort are accepted at the end.  This is proper, and it’s understandable. In the last few years in our country, public meetings have become fraught with tension and escalations, and decorum and orderly rules help keep things…well, orderly. So I understand meeting formats.

Sometimes, however, decorum is democracy’s undoing: Agendas are sometimes bafflingly confusing: a list of officers and the word “report” next to the name. Or, a policy being discussed…listed by its policy number. And if you are like me and rusty on the “participate in the process” process, it is hard to discern what they are about to talk about, or even what a particular person’s job entails.

There is something even more frightening part about not speaking up, though, and that’s showing up determined to do something and then doing nothing at all because you can’t. The board votes before the open comment period. Talk about discouraging…

Well, the way around this, I’ve learned, is to attend more meetings, especially by attending the more tedious meeting that precedes the regular meeting: the work session. This is where they hash out all the particulars, and where board members can ask each other follow up questions. The public can’t speak or offer opinions at a work session – but that’s okay. Because by attending, they get to find out exactly what the board plans to do in a few days. If you know what’s actually on the Agenda, you find out when it’s necessary to talk right away, at 6 p.m.; and, you’re covered! It is allowed speech, because it’s about an Agenda item.

I attended the Shelby Town Board work session this past Tuesday night, and found out that this coming Tuesday, an engineering firm will discuss the Environmental Report (the SEQR) regarding the two 630-foot wind turbines that Supervisor Smith is requesting the Town approve for his property.

According to a timeline from Borrego, our board is voting this fall on the project, and they’re beginning construction by 2023. So even if you hear that it’s no big deal to miss this upcoming meeting, or you’re told that it’s only one step in the process, please believe me when I tell you that it is more like a sprint than a step. Every part of the process is a big deal.

I heard about this for the first time last June. There was a public meeting, and then just 14 days to respond, officially.

If you don’t know anything about it, here are the basics: the question before the Board is, should two 633-foot turbines be built on land just south of the village of Medina? The plan needs approval because it far exceeds what is allowed by local law, which calls for nothing larger than 500 feet.

The plan is to build the turbines directly (about three miles, maybe less) south of Medina Junior-Senior High School, located in an apple orchard between Salt Works Road and South Gravel Road (Route 63).

The properties most impacted are those in a few miles radius of it. The company identified 166 locations that will experience shadow flicker. Here’s a link to the July Orleans County Planning Board meeting where they talked about such details, if you’re curious. Speaking of curious! Did 166 families in Medina get a survey asking how they felt about whether or not two 633-foot wind turbines’ shadow flicker would adversely affect their quality of life, health, and happiness? I’m betting not.

Does everyone in the county realize how such gargantuan turbines will dramatically change everything, from the view of the entire town and county, to the very appearance of a sunset on at least 166 families’ properties? If you have a sunshine-facing window, do you know how shadow flicker could impact your daily life, or your pet’s life, every day the sun is shining? If you don’t know what I mean by shadow flicker, here’s a glimpse of what it could look like, a really short 2017 YouTube video that helps to clarify exactly why you should care.

This might not be enough to get you to the Shelby Town Meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

You know what will? Blinking red lights you’ll see from all around, every direction. All night long. Every day.

Two wind turbines of 633 feet are taller than anything in this region. Nearly double in height the size of those giant turbines you’ve likely seen in Sheldon in Wyoming County, dotting Route 20. Drive down there around 10 p.m. if you’d like to see those blinking red lights they’re required to have and think about how it’ll look from a turbine facing window or yard.

There’ll be those who call me a NIMBY, I’m sure. Well, my response is, a person isn’t a NIMBY (a “Not In My Backyard”) if they’re defending everyone in the county’s front yard, back yard, or side yard, depending on where your house is situated from the turbines. Plus, I’m defending everyone’s view of the sky, not just our yards.

What one person builds on their property is, most often, their own business. But when it’s all of our view of the very sky? Taller than six Elba water towers, rising like Jack’s beanstalk, straight up to the clouds? Taller than every building in Rochester and Buffalo? Then, it’s everyone’s business.

Please make it your business by showing up on Tuesday at the Shelby Town Hall at 6 p.m., ready to share your thoughts about how the environment could be impacted by this decision, because that is the matter at hand, and it’s on the Agenda.

Please ask the board to use Tuesday to hear our concerns and not just their Engineer’s Report, and to issue a moratorium on any future voting until all the environmental questions are answered.

Please ask for another public hearing, one with much more notice than the two weeks we got last June.

Please ask for a community survey, something we’ve done in the past for other projects, and Yates did for their community, but ours did not.


Karen Jones