Wind Farm Wins OK to Begin Construction

The Lewis County Planning Board on Thursday approved several special permit amendments and variances needed for construction to begin on the Tug Hill wind farm.

LOWVILLE, N.Y. — The Lewis County Planning Board on Thursday approved several special permit amendments and variances needed for construction to begin on the Tug Hill wind farm.

Flat Rock project manager William M. Moore Jr. also told the Planning Board that his company hopes to begin installing turbines between mid-April and early May, weather permitting.

"You know we'll be in a battle with the mud," he said, "but somewhere in that date range."

Flat Rock's proposed $380 million project includes 195 turbines in the towns of Martinsburg, Harrisburg and Lowville and a 10.3-mile transmission line in the town of Watson.

"Roughly two-thirds of the project will be built this year in Phase 1," Moore said, adding that the remaining towers will be installed in 2006 "if everybody invites us back."

Moore said the project's first phase is "engineered" for 140 of the 262-foot towers. However, he said, the turbine manufacturer may not be able to produce that many this year, so the number may wind up closer to 120.

While the county and town planning boards previously approved conditional use or special use permits for the turbine construction, Mr. Moore said, plans have changed slightly since then.

The original project included 187 turbines affecting 72 landowners: 40 in Martinsburg, 28 in Harrisburg and four in Lowville.

Since then, Moore said, 13 proposed tower sites have been added and five have been deleted, although the placement pattern is unchanged. "We're not expanding the project area," he said.

Planning Board members voted 6-0 to approve amended permits for Martinsburg and Harrisburg and 5-0 for the Lowville one. Legislator Dennis F. Kraeger, R-Lowville, recused himself from the latter vote, since he's also a member of the Lowville town and village Planning Board.

The permits will now go to the local planning boards for their approval. The county Planning Board also voted 6-0 to approve variances for Lynn and Diana Steiner and Charles Petrus, since proposed turbines on their properties would be 50 to 55 feet from the property lines and Lowville town zoning law requires 250-foot setbacks. They must now be approved by the Lowville Zoning Board of Appeals.

Moore said turbines will be located on both sides of the property lines in question.

He also reported that a plan to put nighttime warning lights on six out of every 10 towers has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, but he hopes to work with FAA officials to reduce that further. "That way, we'll save money and people will have less lights to look at," he said, noting that they'll be medium-intensity blinking lights.

The Lewis County Planning Board on Wednesday also gave site plan approval to Boonville Manufacturing Co. for a 9,600-square-foot structure off Norton Road in the town of Leyden.

County Planning Office Director Jessica L. Jenack said the paper gasket manufacturer plans to move its 10-person operation from its present location on Route 12 within the village of Boonville, just across the Oneida County border.

Several board members were dissatisfied with the plan provided, essentially a tax map with the proposed building drawn in, so they officially stipulated that future plans must include more detailed maps.

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