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Yates Town Board approves met tower

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 June 2015 at 12:00 am

YATES – The Town Board approved a nearly 200-foot-high tower that will test wind strength and consistency near the Yates shoreline, a step that is needed if Apex Wind Energy advances its plan for 60 to 68 wind turbines in Yates and neighboring Somerset.

The Town Board voted 3-1 on Thursday to approve the 196.85 foot high meteorological tower on land owned by Donna Bane. The tower will be on part of a 65-acre lot at the southwest corner of Lakeshore and Marshall roads.

The Orleans County Planning Board recommended the town approve the tower during the Planning Board’s April 23 meeting. For the town to deny the tower, it needed a super-majority vote with at least four votes against the tower. (The Town Board usually has five members, but Steve Freeman recently resigned, leaving the board with four members.)

Town Supervisor John Belson said there was no legal basis for denying the meteorological tower. The tower fits the zoning standards of the town, he said.

“It’s an allowed use,” he said today. “It’s a permitted use.”

Yates did approve stipulations that the tower be lighted and painted to meet Federal Aviation Administration standards.

Members of Save Ontario Shores, a citizens’ group against the wind turbines, attended the meeting and voiced opposition to MET tower.

Town Board member Jim Whipple opposed the tower, saying the timing wasn’t right for the structure because Apex still needs to complete a preliminary scoping statement that addresses some of the specifics of the wind project and environmental concerns.

“I voted no because I think they are way out in front,” Whipple said during today’s board meeting of the Orleans Economic Development Agency, where he is executive director. “I don’t think it’s time yet.”

Belson said the MET tower isn’t the same as the wind turbines, which would peak at nearly 600 feet high from the top of their blades. That project will be reviewed by the state, with some input from the local community.

A state siting board will have final say on that project. That seven-member board is supposed to include two representatives from the project area. Belson said he has four Yates residents in mind to be considered for the siting board and he expects Somerset would have four people for the state to consider.

State officials will have final say on the two local representatives. Belson said it would be fair to have one from Yates and one from Somerset.

Belson and Yates town officials have met with State Sen. Robert Ortt, and State Assembly members Steve Hawley and Jane Corwin to discuss the project and to make sure there is a local voice in the process.

Belson said the project is unusual for the state because it spreads over two towns in two counties.

“It’s something that never been done before in New York State,” he said about the multi jurisdictions.