Wind Project Opponents Speak Out Against Tax BreaksPosted: Updated:
Pete Price and several of his Henderson neighbors addressed the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency board Thursday morning, asking it to not give the company behind the Galloo Island Wind Project, Apex Energy, a tax break in the form of a payment in lieu of taxes or PILOT agreement.
"If the island could speak, she would plead with you to not approve a PILOT agreement for this potential travesty that scars me for eternity," he said.
"I believe that the IDA should not offer a PILOT agreement to Apex or be involved with them in any other way," said fellow Henderson resident Claudia Mauer.
Apex Energy plans to build 30 wind turbines on the Lake Ontario Island, each about 600 feet tall.
Opponents of the wind project are concerned that the wind turbines will obstruct their view and will hurt waterfront property values and the local tourism economy.
"It is easy to see we are walking a fine line financially. Our biggest asset is the pristine view of lake Ontario, generating tourist, fishing and property value revenue. It is very easy to see what our biggest liability would be," said Price.
Others are concerned about the environmental impacts to the wildlife on the island.
"The migratory birds go right over Galloo Island. Put those blades out there, you're going to slice them up. There's eagles out there, there's always been eagles on Stony and Galloo Islands," said Gail Smith, vice president of the Henderson Business and Community Council.
Those at the meeting say Apex should be taxed at the full amount to offset what they say are negative consequences.
However, the IDA board says it would only make a PILOT agreement if all three taxing entities want it. In this case, those are the town of Hounsfield, Jefferson County and Sackets Harbor Central School District.
"Go to your elected officials; your elected officials are the ones who are going to make the decision on this," said David Converse, chair of the JCIDA Board.
Jefferson County has taken a position. Legislature Chair Scott Gray says lawmakers want full taxation, meaning the board would only support a PILOT agreement if the company pays full county taxes.
Gray also says the county reserves the right to reject a PILOT agreement if there are clauses in it that it does not agree with. The project is still going through the approval process.