(The following opinion was written by Bob Ashodian. Bob is a member of the Henderson Harbor (NY) Chamber of Commerce and head of the Chamber’s Economic Development Committee.(eastern Lake Ontario area - Jefferson County) Bob assisted in forming the Preservation of the Golden Crescent Committee (http://www.preservethegoldencrescent.com/) that hopes to prevent turbines from industrializing their area in Jefferson County, NY both on and off shore. The thought of placing turbines on Galloo Isand (in eastern Lake Ontario) is especially appalling and Bob’s group is fighting that development. Galloo Island is in Lake Ontario in the town of Hounsfield and unoccupied)
Some thoughts about the Hounsfield Hearing, Monday, December 21, 2009
Some Suggestions for Letter Writing
My purpose of putting these rough notes together is to document some thoughts that I can draw on for our column in the Jefferson County Journal as well as incorporate into letters.
I would also like to provide some “talking points” or thoughts others might want to draw on to put their own letters or news releases on paper. We need to keep up on the speaking out. The more people that communicate to those we must influence, the better off we will be.
As usual when attending these meetings I am struck by how many things really upset me after the fact. If you are like me, you may find it difficult think right on the spot, to formulate just the right thoughts, then stand and deliver the appropriate hard hitting counter argument. Monday morning was no different.
The scope of the hearing was narrowly defined – Planning Board action on a site plan on an island I would suspect no board member had ever visited; they are simply looking at lines on a chart, pictures in a book. I suspect it is beyond their authority to deny or approve the project unless there is some zoning law provision that prevents the implementation of the special use Galloo Island will be put. As a member of the Henderson Town Planning Board for more than five years, we have looked at many projects that we may or may not like, but we are bound to apply the zoning laws as they exist. I do not know what the underlying zoning classification is for Galloo Island, but suspect what ever it is, building industrial towers cannot be prohibited by the current zoning laws applicable to the island.
I thought they were quite generous in allowing the discussion of many issues that were not Planning Board topics and clearly beyond the scope of the Planning Board hearing rules outlined in their introduction. There were several issues that invited direct confrontation. But, we all behaved ourselves.
Many of the points made from the audience were quite telling. Those points are worth following up on in submitting additional written documents to the Hounsfield Planning Board (even if beyond the scope of what they can deal with) and the likes of the DEC, Barry Ormsby, the JCIDA or anybody else that we can make listen.
The following points stick in my mind and I feel are worth pounding the table about to who ever can open an e-mail or letter and has a stake in the game. The issues include:
1. Class warfare – the haves and the have-nots; the concept that the rich people are protecting their view of the lake; a view from their expensive homes that the rich some how do not deserve to have. Basis for counter argument – yes, some of us have very expensive homes, properties and businesses. Yes, we have more money and our properties are worth a lot of money. That valuation is based on the view shed we have and the quality of life we are willing to pay extraordinary dollars to have, as are so many others coming to this area. Our properties are assessed higher than any other properties in the county. We can afford it because we worked for it, and WE PAY THE TAXES based on the extraordinary value of our properties. So lower the value of the property, destroy our businesses and guess who will foot the tax shortfall that results. I pay more than $11,000 a year in property taxes. You want to pick up what I won’t pay if my property value declines 30%, or you want to make up the difference if the local campground, marina, or any other business fails because we wasted the primary resource that keeps the economy afloat. Lots of meat there for an article or a letter to the editor.
2. The only reason this project is being pursued is because of the federal, state and local subsidies – billions of dollars going to a hoax – the best government plan since subsidized ethanol and where we burned food to make inefficient fuel at a premium cost. The hoax was simple – we can grow our energy. Unintended consequences – corn is the basic ingredient to thousands of basic food products. The world cost of food went up and millions of people starved because the government elite totally overlooked the basic laws of economics. Some farmers and some related industries cleaned up – they got the money. Subsidized wind energy – sounds good – wastes billions on subsidies and the big money flows to foreign countries, the investors get rich while desperate communities sell out for pennies on the dollar and the energy produced is very expensive. You want a subsidy? You want a PILOT – how about a PILOT for the tax payers? Definition of a PILOT, what they don’t pay, we pay.
3. Who cares about efficiency – 20% is good enough, cost is no object, the government pays for it. Our tax dollars are being thrown down the toilet. No matter – its green, its green. I love it. Forget that I’m saving the planet by being green while I destroy forever, the very quality of life that so many people are willing to pay a premium to have. Let’s convert the entire water front to wind towers, the closer to shore the better, cheaper to build and maintain. I don’t live there, the rich people live there.
4. Who cares about my neighbors? This thing is 12 miles out in the lake. I can’t see it, too bad if you can. This means money to ME. I need the tax benefit, we are poor, we need jobs, they promised us jobs, I believe, so sell it off, sell it off, the sooner the better. Who cares? Never been out there, never will, so who cares about a few acres of land that might be worth ten times as much in the future. Who cares that it can never be replaced? I want the money, any kind of money, now, right now.
5. This is a Hounsfield project. There are no other considerations. Cape Vincent’s wind towers, not my problem. In the water turbines, not my problem. Who cares about 2000 towers out in the lake? We are working on our town, not yours.
Here’s a couple of other issues, not so much related to the Hounsfield hearing itself, but still considerations worth giving visibility:
1. The DEC is only one of many agencies supposedly looking out for us; to protect us and others from doing harm; to protect us all from the greed of others who might otherwise see only short term profit now for themselves, to the disadvantage of the rest of us. Now, are we facing the real risk that our own DEC will have identified the harm that will be done, simply be a bystander? This is the harm you will do; now you know, so the rest of the government promoters and the developer can have a clear conscience. Of course we will have taken mitigating action – we won’t blast when the fish are spawning. But, we can’t be sure of when, but we will try. Yeah, no doubt we will kill some birds and bats and turtles, cull (slaughter) some deer, but we will try to mitigate that. ANWR (Alaska National Wildlife Reserve) is a tiny blip in a vast wildness, seen and visited by virtually no one. Can’t industrialize any of that, but we can contemplate the complete industrialization of the north eastern end of Lake Ontario; home and vacation land to hundreds of thousands of people, an international destination. This is truly madness.
2. Following the meeting, Donald Metzger, Karl Williams, Mitch Franz and I heard a very interesting story. Don’s a St. Lawrence River pilot. A very interesting guy to talk with. He gets that marvelous opportunity to chat with ship captains from around the world. In the parking lot, he relates a conversation he had with a captain who was very familiar with wind towers in the North Atlantic. In the water towers. Towers placed there by the Europeans. The captain tells Don that he has talked to the fisherman in the area. They report that for some reason, fish avoid the area for several miles around the towers. The suspected reason – the blades set up a noise, a pulse, a sound, that bothers the fish, but a sound not heard by us humans. (Dogs can hear sounds we can’t.) So why bring up this point – 84 sets of turbine blades, their metal structures anchored into the ground with poured concrete, will create all manner of sounds. Think of each structure as a gigantic tuning fork placed on a foundation of virtually solid rock surrounded by water. Who from any agency has any idea what the impact of the tuning fork effect will be on the creatures that inhabit Galloo Island or what sort of frequency vibrations will broadcast itself like a gigantic sonar device into the fisheries of the Golden Crescent. How far away will the pulse and vibration of 84 turbines be heard by the creatures of the lake? Will some creatures simply move beyond the hearing range, or will they simply perish having been deprived of their habitat. Who knows? Does anybody really care? I say no one knows, but some may suspect, many might care if they knew what might happen. This is a topic that should be raised with the DEC and other environmental groups and the fishing interests.
These are just a few thoughts while I am feeling really cranked up. I will incorporate some of the above in future Jefferson County Journal pieces.
I would encourage others to pick up on any of the above thoughts for their own letters to the editor, especially to the WDT or as news releases directly from the Coalition, the Chamber or the Heart of Henderson and as letters to the political fools that are in charge of our future.
For those with engineering backgrounds, you should be able to expand on my non scientific analogies of the tuning fork effect of wind turbines anchored into the rock of Galloo Island.
Do what you can. We are at war.