Fulton residents raised questions, concerns and support for the possibility of wind energy at a meeting Monday night at their town hall.
Town Supervisor Phil Skowfoe and other town board members fielded questions from a full crowd of primarily opponents of turbines.
The meeting was for informational purposes in response to a survey the town board sent to more than 900 property owners. Many of those who returned surveys, claimed they needed more information.
Regarding the wind power farm, 121 were in favor, 60 were against, and 83 said they needed more information.
Planning Board Chairman Neil Driscoll pointed out that for the wind farms to be built, they would need a permit, something the town had not dealt with before.
The town board, said Mr. Skowfoe, tried to research wind ordinances but was discouraged from creating a committee for this purpose in previous meetings.
Resident Vincent Sapione voiced several concerns regarding what benefits the wind mills would bring.
“How many permanent jobs will the mills provide, not partial jobs?” Mr. Sapione asked the board.
“If it’s going to benefit the Town of Fulton, we should entertain it.”
Mr. Skowfoe pointed out “we haven’t been approached to do the project; all they’ve done is research.”
The benefits cannot be fully determined until the project is further developed, he said.
Former Supervisor Tim Hardendorf voiced a different concern about “trying to preserve the rural climate of the area,” including the streams and forests that would surround wind mills.
Despite repeated concerns regarding the attractiveness of the wind mills, Councilman Helmut Hoeher said there is little the board can do in response to this concern.
“You can’t just say you don’t want something,” he said. “There needs to be a health or environmental reason. You can’t just deny someone from coming in.”
Others in attendance pointed out that Reunion Power, the company considering building the windmills, had little experience.
Transmission of the energy was brought up several times, particularly if the town or the state would take private property through eminent domain to facilitate the transmission.
Mr. Skowfoe said this is a “huge hurdle” and that the town board was unlikely to use such a tactic.
Mr. Skowfoe said several times that the wind power project is still far from being decided.
“If we move forward, there will be notifications for people to attend future meetings.”
Reunion Power is looking into building turbines in Fulton and neighboring Richmondville. Test towers were built in both towns to measure if wind speeds are strong enough for permanent turbines.