VN 11/27 - "Huge Tax Cut"?


VN 11/13 - Proof of the Pudding

The proof of any recipe is what it tastes like when it’s all done. Did it turn out the way the cook intended? Does everyone think it’s a success? After last week’s election, it seems virtually inevitable that Cohocton’s hills will be covered with industrial wind turbines by next year in accordance with the controversial “recipe for success” UPC Wind and our elected officials are cooking up for all of us. Now that the majority of our Town’s voters have officially ignored the warnings of critics, the last remaining critic will be the project’s outcome itself.

There’s little doubt that UPC Wind will reap a handsome profit, but will Cohocton get what it bargained for?
- Will the turbines and towers be quiet and unobtrusive, as advertised, or disturbingly noisy (but technically legal) and ugly?
- Whose property values will go up, and whose will go down?
- Will our property taxes actually drop significantly, or have projected tax savings been falsely inflated, only to be minimized by increased costs, lowered school tax subsidies and other factors?
- And, ultimately, will onshore industrial wind power installations like this lower greenhouse gas production or turn out to be scams that are enormously costly to taxpayers and energy consumers?

Frankly, we think the whole wind power scheme is a painfully flawed boondoggle for investors that will end up damaging our Town. We’re grateful for the encouragement many of you have shown in supporting our well-researched concerns over the past 18 months privately, at public meetings, and at the polls. Thank you for your support!

We’ll be taking a low profile from now on but will still be available to talk with anyone in town as things develop. Once UPC’s recipe has been followed and Cohocton’s goose pudding is cooked, we think the lights are going to start coming on, one at a time, in the minds of many formerly ardent wind supporters. In the meantime, please visit us at www.cohoctonfree.com, keep up with our Updates, and let us know what you discover as you begin to taste the pudding.

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Incumbents Retain Positions

This week's elections returned Cohocton's incumbents to office by a 2 to 1 margin, disappointing but not surprising results for Reform Cohocton supporters. Click here to read Bob Clark's report in the Hornell Evening Tribune.

We would like to thank all of you who have been such an encouragement over the past year as we have sought to bring some balance to the wind power controversy locally. Although industrial wind development seems now to be a foregone conclusion in Cohocton, the ongoing process and consequences of this development remain to be seen. Some of our most important work may remain ahead.

In Howard the outcome of Tuesday's election was similar. However, in many other elections around the state, wind power critics won office as listed below:

Brandon: “We won!”
Burke: “Appears to have our majority now.”
Hartsville: “Steve Dombert won Town Supervisor.”
Malone: “Appears to have stayed in good shape.”
Meredith: “Keitha Capouya is Supervisor-Elect and will have a majority on the Town Council to ban industrial wind. We estimate the final margin of Keitha’s victory will be about 66% to 34% — a LANDSLIDE! And a crushing defeat for industrial wind in Meredith. The four other candidates on our slate all won.”
Perry: “One of our two candidates for the Town Board won the election. Congratulations, Tracy Rozanski! Our candidate for Town Supervisor lost by only about 100 votes to an incumbent who was cross-endorsed by both the Democrat and the Republican Parties. To say that this town is divided over the industrial wind issue is an understatement, but the citizens are waking up!”
Sardinia: “Win. We now have a majority board who will support a strict ordinance and will vote on it early next year when it’s ready.”
Sheldon (Wyoming County): “We lost: town supervisor and two council seats– now three seats are filled with “poor farmers” getting turbines. Same supervisor (Knab); new council member Kirsch, dem chair & getting many turbines.”
Springwater: “Good News for Springwater! Norb Buckley, one of “the good guys”, is our new town supervisor. John Curtiss, another great guy, town council. And Katherine Bush, town council.”

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VN 11/6 - Big Time Spenders

And you thought 2 full pages was a lot? Last week’s Valley News had over 3 full pages of advertising for the Cohocton incumbents, including 1 full-page color ad with their obscure “Adopted Budget for 2008” (before the election, no less), another full-page color hatchet job on Judi Hall, and several smaller ads for UPC Wind, etc. After spending more than $15,000 in Valley News ads over the past 18 months, our UPC team is blazing toward the finish line by spending another $800 last week alone. And what do the incumbents want us to know about? How they propose to spend our money next year!

Do our incumbents have anything but spending money on their minds?
- Well, yes, they have wind turbines. Getting them up as fast as possible before the court can act and even before a valid PILOT agreement is in place. Can you believe that all this spending and talk about more spending is still just based on promises?
- What can an ordinary citizen do?
Come out on November 6 and vote Row E for the
Reform Cohocton Slate:

Judith Hall, Town Supervisor
Cesare Taccone, Town Councilman
Stephen H. Trude, Town Councilman
Dr. Frank "Stoner" Clark, Town Justice
Bonnie Palmiter, Town Assessor
Rebecca Conard, Town Assessor
Blair Hall, Town Clerk

This Tuesday Cohocton voters have the opportunity to elect a team of leaders who haven't been bought by UPC Wind, a group of men and women who are prepared to ask the tough questions and get our Town back on track again. Review the Reform Cohocton platform and slate of candidates at www.cohocton.net and then go to the polls and vote for leaders who aren’t dazzled by UPC’s money.

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No Tower Up Yet?

Pre Election

Why hasn't UPC Wind
put up a turbine
before the election
on November 6
for all of us to see?

Click here
to take
our survey.



What UPC Pays For

Jane Towner greeted me outside the UPC office yesterday afternoon as I was leaving the Post Office:

"Dr. Morehouse, I want you to know that we don't pay for political ads or Wayne Hunt's articles in the Valley News. I know you have concerns."

For those who don't know, Jane Towner was designated UPC's "Project Community Relations Representative" in August. Her statement begs the following questions and comments:

Who is "we"? Canandaigua Power Partners I? Canandaigua Power Partners II? Cohocton Wind? Dutch Hill Wind? The UPC Community Relations office? The UPC Construction office? UPC Wind Partners LLC in Massachusetts? Some other branch of UPC?

Who pays for the YES Wind Power group's expenses, including its Valley News ads?

Were Gerald Moore's and "Gramps" Drum's half-page, full color ads (and numerous others like them) "political" or paid for by the YES group or UPC directly?

If UPC (out of one or more of its many pockets) financially supports the YES group and donates to the incumbents' reelection campaign - none of which is presumably illegal - and then these groups run ads in the Valley News, like Wayne Hunt's ads, who has actually "paid" for them?

How have pro-wind people in Cohocton consistently been able to outspend their critics 3 to 1 for over a year and a half, when these critics are supposed to be so rich?

When the glove moves, it's the hand behind it doing the moving, Jane.

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VN 10/30 - Bought, Paid For

It’s amazing how money talks. Last week’s Valley News contained nearly 2 full pages of slick ads promoting the Cohocton wind projects, almost all of it in full color. There were 3 half-page color ads, one with a picture of “Gramps” Drum on his tractor, another with the Larrowe House, and a third flag-draped political ad for the incumbent slate. In addition, UPC had its usual office notice, and Wayne Hunt sounded forth again. Who do you think paid the $500+ that these ads cost? “Gramps”? Wayne? Jack? Cohocton citizens?

Has UPC bought the entire Town with its cash and promises?
- Only a court case and one small election stand between UPC’s supporters and the unobstructed fulfillment of their plans.
- Fortunately for all of us there is still a glimmer of hope that sound reason and prudence will win out in the end.
- Pray for wisdom for Judge Marianne Furfure and come out on November 6 to vote Row E for the Reform Cohocton Slate:

Judith Hall, Town Supervisor
Stephen H. Trude, Town Councilman
Cesare Taccone, Town Councilman
Dr. Frank "Stoner" Clark, Town Justice
Bonnie Palmiter, Town Assessor
Rebecca Conard, Town Assessor
Blair Hall, Town Clerk

Next Tuesday Cohocton voters will have the opportunity to elect a team of leaders who haven't been dazzled by UPC Wind's sales pitch, a group of men and women who are prepared to ask UPC the tough questions and negotiate a deal that makes better sense for all of us. Browse our "Updates," review the Reform Cohocton platform and slate of candidates, and help us get out the vote for leaders that UPC’s money hasn’t swayed.

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VN 10/23 - Money Matters

A major factor that members of the Cohocton YES Wind Power group point to when they proclaim that supporting UPC's project is a "no-brainer" is how much money they and the Town have been promised by the developer. Two kinds of money are promised: leasehold payments (private) and PILOT or Payments In Lieu Of Taxes to the Town (public). The project proposed 1.5 MW turbines when leases were first signed, then 2.0 MW turbines last year, and now 2.5 MW turbines. UPC Wind stands to make 67% more money from each of the larger turbines. Is this increase being shared with leaseholders? Each leaseholder knows the deal they got, leaving the rest of us in the dark.

But what about the proposed public PILOT money?
- First, even though we have a preliminary "Host Agreement" in place, the PILOT agreement apparently remains unfinished, so we really don't have anything but words in the air.
- Has anyone in our current Town administration even thought about computing how much UPC Wind would pay if they were taxed straight out as an electric utility? How can we judge any proposed PILOT without knowing what to compare it with?
- The school tax problem: we've just gotten a report from UPC's project in Mars Hill, Maine, indicating that half of their PILOT money has been lost through reductions in school tax subsidy. Have we computed this loss locally?
- The City Council in Lackawanna (Buffalo) has just discovered that it can tax future “phases” of UPC Wind's "Steel Winds" turbine project at the full rate, and last week they unanimously passed a law that would authorize them to do so.

In two weeks Cohocton voters will have the opportunity to elect a team of leaders who haven't been dazzled by UPC Wind's sales pitch, a group of men and women who are prepared to ask UPC the tough questions and negotiate a deal that makes better sense for all of us. Browse our Updates, visit our main site, review the Reform Cohocton platform and slate of candidates, and come out on November 6 to vote for leaders that count.

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VN 10/16 - Hand in the Glove

Week by week, UPC Wind’s involvement in Cohocton becomes more blatantly evident in The Valley News. Last week they took out nearly 2 full pages of ads under several guises in their continuing effort to promote their project before next month’s election. One was a half-page color ad by UPC pledging to “Save our town!” and extolling the “beauty” of its promised “new jobs!” “prosperity!” and “opportunity!” Another was a 3/4-page ad by Wayne Hunt with quotes from Judge Furfure’s recent court decision. Apparently the Judge felt that “Local Law #2… was not the first step of a larger project” nor were “changes made by Local Law #2… made at the request of project applicants as a preliminary step to this project.”

Where was Judge Furfure when Local Law #2 was made?
- Obviously nowhere near Cohocton where the picture was quite different. Without UPC there would have been no Local Law #1 or #2. Our Comprehensive Plan has no place for wind turbines at all.
- Throughout the entire process it’s been clear that our elected and appointed officials have had one goal in mind – working with UPC to craft a legal framework that would permit their project.
- UPC’s enormous Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) came on the heels of Local Law #1, and its even bigger SDEIS came almost instantly after Local Law #2 was passed and, oddly enough, fit its provisions precisely the way a hand fits into a carefully tailored glove. “Hearings?” Who were our leaders listening to?
- One reading of Local Law #2 should convince any sceptic that it was written by attorneys, not local politicians. And who paid the attorneys who wrote it? Hello? Is anyone home?

When a glove moves, it’s the hand behind it that makes it move. Unfortunately, Judge Furfure just looked at the glove and ignored the hand. We still have a chance in this fall’s elections, however, to turn the tide of deception that’s been overtaking our town. Browse through our “Updates,” review the Reform Cohocton platform and slate of candidates, and then help us get out the vote for people who can see through this whole ruse.

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A Crucial Tax Issue

Steve Trude, Reform Cohocton candidate for Town Board, has raised a serious question with our Town Assessors about the tax status of the UPC Wind project. A copy of his letter follows:

Dear Ms. Damboise, Mr. Densmore, and Mr. Domm:

SCIDA has not approved a PILOT for the UPC/CPP/CPPII Projects. The developer has taken the risk of starting construction without building permits. As with any building construction that does not have “special exemption”, the value of the entire project is subject to industrial tax assessment.

These UPC industrial machines, if built, reside on land of several Cohocton property owners, who supposedly have lease agreements with UPC. A host agreement between the Town of Cohocton and the UPC developer does not cover the independent tax jurisdiction of the Cohocton - Wayland School District and the County of Steuben.

Without a valid PILOT, it is legally required that such a project must be assessed at full value and applied to each of the individual property accounts where any portion of the project is erected.

Every tax payer in the Town of Cohocton has a financial interest in the consequences of the proper tax assessment that your board will assign to each of the leaseholders property. Your board has a fiduciary responsibility to compute a market cost value for assessment of this industrial project, publish your determination and adjust the tax rolls accordingly.

A PILOT exemption cannot be approved after the fact. It has been publicly acknowledged by UPC that the entire project has a cost in excess of $150,000,000. There is no agricultural exemption for an electric utility, which UPC was granted by the Public Service Commission. NYSEG and Frontier are taxed in this manner, so must UPC.

Although it is recognized that the aforementioned circumstances are perhaps unusual as a normal course of business for your office, never-the-less it falls well within the realm of your responsibility and mandate. How you knowingly and intentionally go forward at this point with required and necessary decisions is now the question and will be monitored closely in and for the public interest.

In the interest of full disclosure, the Cohocton Assessment Board should release their full tax value assessment for the UPC Project before the 11/06/07 election.

Click here to view a PDF copy of Mr. Trude's letter.

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VN 10/9 - Gone With the Wind

As excavation proceeds on Dutch Hill, Cohocton’s air is starting to fill with the crowing sound of YES supporters. How wonderful UPC’s out-of town workers are, we’re told. How marvelously things will “stay the same” (while they change dramatically) UPC trumpets in The Valley News over a picture of Larrowe House, the Town Hall they’ve just bought with their PSC mitigation money and promises. In spite of increasing opposition, both locally and regionally, the obstacles seem to be falling one by one. Only a court case and an election stand in the way of what might be a triumphant victory for leaseholders.

But if UPC succeeds, who will the winners and losers be?

- UPC Wind and its investors will clearly be the biggest winners. They’ll be able to take their entire $250,000,000 project as a tax write-off, account for another half of that in tax credits, and rake in over $13,000,000 a year in energy sales while rewarding our Town with remarkably low payments in lieu of taxes.
- NYS energy consumers will clearly be losers because they (we) will be paying an additional $134,000,000+ in energy surcharges over the next 20 years for the inflated cost of wind energy.
- Leaseholders will be winners and losers. They’re being promised fairly small annual lease payments (anything may be better than nothing), but they’re going to be surprised at how much of the scenery, peace and quiet, and integrity of their land they’ll lose.
- Non-leaseholders probably stand to lose the most: in property values, beauty, tranquility, social standing, and the total eclipse of local politics by a well-financed outside industial developer.

Truth stands in the balance. Is wind energy the wave of the future or a passing fad and economic scam? Only time will tell the whole story. In the meantime, YES people are ready to cast our Town to the wind. We desperately need some checks and balances in local government - people who will take a fresh look at everything that’s been done and make sure it’s right. Browse our
“Updates,” check out our main site, review some alternatives at Reform Cohocton, and then help us take back our Town this November.



VN 10/2 - Parade of Lies

The Ironworkers’ Business Agent in Rochester, Mike Altonberg, is one of the latest people locally to have his eyes opened up to the deceptive business practices of UPC Wind. Many of us have been seeing their lies quite clearly over the past 18 months, while others continue to swallow lie after lie without even blinking their eyes. They continue to believe that UPC Wind is a company who will hold to their word, even when they have violated it over and over; that Chris Swartley is a man of ethics, even a prophet, not an industrial salesman of con-man proportions; and that UPC’s promised PILOT payments are fair and just, not thinly disguised political bribery.

What lies are we talking about?
- That their turbine projects are agricultural enterprises (“farms” not industrial installations), built by a private firm that would never claim to be a public utility (unless it was to their advantage).
- That they are entitled to bribe our town with depreciated PILOT payments because their projects are supposedly “green” instead of paying taxes proportionate to the projects’ earnings.
- That their projects will be quiet (based on patently fraudulent noise studies by Hessler, et al), not disruptive to the environment, and visually unobtrusive.
- That they will seek and obtain individual building permits for each tower before starting any construction, giving landowners the right to work out siting problems unit by unit.
- That their projects will be constructed by local workers, etc…

How can local people be so blind? Unfortunately, at least one Finger Lakes town will probably have to fall prey to this kind of corporate deception so that everyone in the region can see the results and keep the wind developers out of their area. It’s sad that Cohocton may prove to be the “forerunner” in this way. Can’t we wait and let someone else take the fall? Our hills, sky, and wind won’t go away. Let’s take back our Town this November. Browse through our "Updates," check out our main website, visit Reform Cohocton to review your options, and then help us recall Cohocton from the brink.

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VN 9/26 - Thank You, Friends!

Last week Cohocton Republicans came out to the primary polls in record numbers to vote for this fall’s Republican ticket. For the first time in years voters were given an alternative, and a slate of seasoned and well-financed incumbents was opposed by a group of fellow-citizens with a different vision for Cohocton’s future. Prior to the election, wind power enthusiasts derided Reform Cohocton supporters as a small fringe group, a “dedicated dozen” of negative souls. Thank you, voters, for demonstrating that serious opposition to doing business the “YES” way exists, even in Republican circles.

What did our incumbents do to lose your support?

- They grossly twisted the facts about recent lawsuits and tried to shift the blame for our current legal liability from themselves to those who are working hard to hold them accountable.
- They hurried the timetable of negotiations with UPC Wind and then tried to make us all believe that everything was done and in order when, in fact, the deal isn’t really closed yet.
- They tried to falsely malign the reputations of fellow citizens.
- They even resorted to thinly veiled bribery by waving promises of unearned money in our faces and then prematurely offering estimated property tax reductions just prior to the primary.

Fortunately, a couple of serious court cases, unfinished negotiations with SCIDA and UPC, permit issues, and a general election in November still stand between the incumbents and their plans to sell our wind resources for a song and let UPC rip up our woods and farmland as they turn our entire town into an industrial wind power plant.

Our current leaders are sadly mistaken. We need people leading us who can tell the difference between right and wrong. Now is the time for citizens of all political persuasions to wake up, come forward, and help us correct a process that’s gotten completely out of order. Please visit us online, pray with us for wisdom and justice to prevail, and join the struggle. It’s not too late!



Vote in Republican Primary

A reminder from Reform Cohocton:

Be sure to vote in the Republican Primary at your normal voting place - Town Hall, Cohocton and Court Office, Atlanta - NOON to 9:00 PM Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007.

  • Robert C. Strasburg II – Town Supervisor
  • Steven M. Sick – Town Council
  • Cesare F. Taccone – Town Council
  • Blair Hall – Town Clerk
  • Dr. F. Stoner Clark – Town Justice
  • Christina Brautigam - Town Assessor
  • Rebecca Conard - Town Assessor
Sweep clean past failures!
A bright future demands new leadership.



VN 9/18 - A Town Divided

UPC Wind arrived in Cohocton 5 years ago with a bright new idea: “Let’s help save the planet from global warming and make a boodle of money in the process.” Quietly and privately they went about signing up interested leaseholders and local politicians until they had the makings of a wind farm. Then in April 2006 they sprung their project, almost full-blown, on our unsuspecting community, precipitating a struggle for truth and loyalty that has divided our once-peaceful town into bitterly opposed camps. This is the legacy our current leadership is leaving us - division, not prosperity.

How did we get this way, and what can we do now?
- Jack Zigenfus showed us how we got here in his Valley News ad last week: he took his cues from powers above him, not from the electorate below, revealing a seriously misplaced sense of loyalty.
- Our current leaders decided what to do before bringing it to the general public, then steadfastly refused to receive any input.
- Reconciliation, compromise, mediation, and preserving the social integrity of our community have consistently been sacrificed in favor of perceived economic benefit – money, in other words.
- Contrary to their public claims, this is not “REAL” leadership; this is painfully divisive, willful pride and arrogance.

This fall we have our chance to elect a team that’s committed to the entire community, not just wind power supporters. These are folks like you and me that would like to see Cohocton come to a united decision.

Examine the qualified slate of candidates being put forward by Reform Cohocton. Then cast your vote in today’s Republican primary (polls will be open Tuesday, September 18th, from noon to 9 pm). Help us elect a team this fall that’s dedicated to the principle of unity our hearts are all pledged to: One Town, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!



UPC Lies to Us All?

On August 22 UPC Wind sent out a letter from John Pelczar, Construction Manager, to all the citizens of Cohocton which started out by saying, "UPC Wind has been working with the Cohocton community for almost five years to develop the Cohocton and Dutch Hill Wind Farms. We are happy to announce that the design and approval process has come to an end." (emphasis added)

Mr. Pelczar went on to claim that "Over the past few weeks the Town Board approved its agreements with UPC Wind, the Planning Board approved the Cohocton and Dutch Hill Wind site plans, and the Code Enforcement officer issued our building permits. These agreements guarantee the Town of Cohocton $11.5 million dollars over the next 20 years, $3.85 million of which will come to the town in the first four years. Our agreements also guarantee $150,000 for the renovation of the Larrowe house." He concluded by introducing Jane Towner as UPC's Project Community Relations Representative.

What's the problem here? Well, 1) the agreements aren't complete; 2) promises should never be confused with guarantees; 3) nobody in Town seems to be able to come up copies of the building permits; and so 4) the process really hasn't "come to an end" yet. All of this is just UPC filling the pre-election air with more self-serving wishful talk, talk that resembles lying.

A parting question: if the incumbents regain political office and Jane Towner is UPC's "Project Community Relations Representative," who will look out for the interests of citizens who run into problems with UPC? Talk about putting a group of foxes in charge of the hen house!

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Report on Candidate Night

Today's Hornell Evening Tribune ran an excellent article by Bob Clark reporting on last night's Reform Cohocton candidate night that starts out

Wind power topped a Reform Cohocton town hall-style forum Tuesday night.Congressional candidate Eric Massa and Reform Cohocton candidates answered questions from a crowd of more than 60 Cohocton residents at Cohocton Elementary School. Wind power and turbines dominated the meeting, with every candidate and Massa speaking about the issue.

Bob goes on to quote Jack Zigenfus' empty excuses for why the incumbents boycotted the event. Click here to read the entire article.



VN 9/11 - Taxes Going Up?

By now we’re all reading glowing reports from Cohocton’s current leaders about how much they’ve been doing for all of us these past several years. But have you taken time to watch your tax bill lately? Some of us have been noticing pretty dramatic annual increases, even 10% or more, but nothing quite like what’s just come in the mail. With the new “reassessment” our tax bill has just gone up 31% since last year! What about yours? Maybe your family is on a favored list, and your taxes have actually gone down. But what about the rest of us?

What is going to happen to our taxes?
- Will they go down under the current administration if we get promised cash infusions from UPC Wind? No guarantees here.
- Who will review the recent reassessment, noting carefully whose taxes went up, whose went down, and why? The same people who were in charge of the reassessment process? Not on your life.
- If a chunk of cash rolls into our coffers in 2008, who’s likely to vote themselves a handsome pay raise? New folks, or some proud incumbents who think they’re worth a hearty pat on the back?
- Who will have the courage to tackle the thorny fiscal problems we’re facing? The people who created them? Highly unlikely.

Right now we have a painfully polarized group of leaders that can only think about rewarding windmill supporters and making life difficult for the rest of us. We need new people in office who can examine our tax situation fairly, not the same YES folks who, perhaps sincerely, keep misleading us deeper and deeper into liability.

Elections in Cohocton have often been decided in the Republican primary races, coming up on September 18th, but this year may be different. Review the qualified slate of Reform Cohocton candidates online at www.cohocton.net. Then come to the Cohocton Elementary School on September 11th at 7 pm for the Public Candidate Forum, pray with us for wisdom and justice, and let your voice be heard!



VN 9/4 - It's Election Year!

This fall Cohocton voters will have their first chance to express their opinion about UPC Wind’s $250,000,000 windmill project at the polls, even if it’s indirectly. So far, our incumbents have carefully kept the whole matter out of the hands of the electorate, refusing even a nonbinding referendum. Local leaders in Webster, NY, on the other hand, recently put their town’s proposed $15 million community center proposal before the voters, only to see it defeated. Webster Town Supervisor Ron Nesbitt responded to the vote by saying, “Scaling down the project may be the best bet to gain the public's approval.”

Do our incumbents want the public’s approval?
- They sure do! But their tactic is to say YES first and then wave money at us all without even giving us a chance to look at the carefully crafted promises that are behind all this supposed money.
- In the meantime, we’ve been told that construction is going to proceed, even though valid building permits haven’t been issued, fees haven’t been paid, bonds haven’t been secured, the PILOT agreement hasn’t been ratified in Bath, etc., etc.
- Yes, they would like you to approve a project after they’ve gotten us all so deep into the building process that there isn’t any way out but to try to clean up the mess. This is the YES way.

Even if cleaning up the mess is all we’re left with, however, it’s a task that’s going to need new leadership, people who will trust and respond to the electorate. We need a new group of people who can ask UPC Wind the tough questions and hold the line with them, not the same YES folks that got us into this pickle in the first place.

Elections in Cohocton have been traditionally decided in September’s Republican primary races, which are coming up very soon. Examine the qualified slate of candidates being put forward by Reform Cohocton, come out to the Public Meeting being held on September 11 from 7-9 pm at the Cohocton Elementary School, then pray with us for wisdom and justice to prevail and let your voice be heard!



Money is Like Drugs

When voters were polled in Webster this month after voting down a proposed $15 million community center, one voter was quoted in the Democrat & Chronicle as saying:

"We don't need to build a monument to our town supervisor. Money is like drugs to politicians — they can't get enough, and they can't spend it quick enough."

Click here to read the whole article.



A New Tourist Attraction?

Jim Pfiffer has just written an article in the Elmira/Corning Star-Gazette in which he wonders about claims that windmills could become a tourist attraction in Cohocton. Here's part of his report from Tug Hill:

Gordon Yancey of Martinsburg, N.Y., (about 55 miles northeast of Syracuse) owns Flat Rock Inn on Tug Hill, where 195 nearby windmills spin in the breeze, make noise, throw ice from the blades in winter, and drive away the snowmobile and ATV riders who are his main customers.

The 400-foot-high towers don't attract tourists, but instead lure rubberneckers, Yancey says. "They drive up the road, look at these things, get out of their cars and take some pictures and then drive away." Yancey says. "They don't stay and spend their money here."

Curious people may find the windmills interesting the first time they see them, Yancey says. "But by the second and third time, they realize how truly ugly and distasteful they are," Yancey adds. "They have marred and destroyed the serenity and beauty of the rural landscape. It's no longer a wilderness area, but an industrial plant."

Will tourists ever be drawn to Cohocton to see the windmills? Probably for a while to see what a project looks like so they can go back home and lobby against the wind developers who are trying to invade their area. However, once everyone has seen the ugly industrial clutter that they really are, most tourists will undoubtedly be spending their time (and money) elsewhere.

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Candidates turn heads

In an article published in yesterday's Corning Leader, Mary Perham writes:

The 2007 election season has developed some new twists and turns with a large field of candidates successfully submitting independent designating petitions to assure themselves a spot on the Nov. 6 ballot. The petitions, submitted to the Steuben County Board of Elections last week, allow candidates to run for office without endorsement from official parties. The number of signatures varies, depending on the number of voters registered in each municipality in 2006. A number of competitions are shaping up in several towns stirred by issues ranging from comprehensive plans to wind turbines.

In Cohocton, the construction of a 51-turbine farm in the town is slated to begin this year. Opponents have one lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court and another under appeal. The group said Wednesday more will be filed soon to prevent construction. However, as political candidates, the wind farm opponents do not mention the wind project as an issue on their Web site. Instead, the political newcomers aim to oust all current town officials, charging them with incompetence and mismanagement.

The group has fielded a full slate of Republican candidates for the primary, facing incumbent Town Supervisor Jack Zigenfus, Town Clerk Sandra Riley, Town Justice Hal Graham, Highway Superintendent Thomas Simons, and town assessors Mark Densmore and Joanne Damboise. In addition, eight Reform Cohocton candidates have filed designating petitions to compete in November, as a back-up to the primary battle.

Click here to review the Reform Cohocton Platform.



Host Community Agreement

We've been able to get a copy of the 50-page "Host Community Agreement" Jack Zigenfus signed on behalf of the Town almost 2 weeks ago.

The document starts with an introduction in which we are told upfront that the "Agreement" is with "Canandaigua Power Partners, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company." Why on earth does an international wind company with US home offices in Massachusetts need to do business in NY through a Delaware LLC that is conveniently out of legal reach?

The Agreement then goes through 6 full pages of legal definitions, followed by 36 pages of legal contingencies, and concludes with several signature pages and a projected payment schedule. Copies of several critical underlying agreements referenced in the document aren't available yet. These include 1) a "PILOT Agreement" with SCIDA (won't be ready for a month), 2) a "Host Mortgage," 3) a "Road Use Agreement,"4) an "Oversight Agreement," 5) and a "Security Agreement," among others.

One interesting clause (Section 29.1.1.) reads as follows: "at the Company's option, the Company may terminate this Agreement at any time, by written notice to the Town (the date of such notice being the "Termination Date"), delivered on or before September 1, 2008."

We firmly believe that the electorate should and must be included in any decision-making of this magnitude and that construction should be delayed at least until all documents pertaining to any proposed Agreement are made public and citizens can express their will in this fall's elections. Click here to read the entire "Agreement" as it currently stands.

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Town Board Campaign Letter

We've just received a letter from the Town Board, dated 8/15, heralded by an ad in this week's Valley News, and apparently mailed out to all Cohocton residents, in which our elected officials announce in glowing terms "that the final agreements have been signed to allow for the first Wind Power Project in the Southern Tier of New York State" and that "there will be approximately 50 wind turbines generating 2.5 Megawatts each of clean renewable energy in the Town of Cohocton."

The letter confesses (boasts?) up front that they've been working the proposed project for "the past few years" even though most of the town's citizens were not made aware of their plans until April 2006, well after the last election in which voters could have expressed their sentiments. Then, after telling us about the financial windfall they think their "agreements" will bring to Cohocton, they go on to tell us that they really haven't figured out what to do with the promised money.

It seems clear from the letter that our current administration is deeply committed to getting UPC's project well into the construction phase before the voters can express their will in this fall's election. Whatever happened to truly representative government in our Town?

We'll post a copy of the Agreement our town leaders have just signed as soon as we can obtain one. In the meantime, click here to read their letter, and then visit Reform Cohocton to consider some alternatives.

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VN 8/21 - Cohocton Bought?

Apparently Canandaigua Power Partners, LLC (CPP) and Canandaigua Power Partners II, LLC (CPP II), which are wholly-owned subsidiaries of UPC New York Wind, LLC, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of UPC Wind Partners, LLC (UPC Wind) are convinced that they can buy Cohocton. And the main reason for their confidence can be found in a group of incumbent elected officials who apparently believe that Cohocton can and should be sold to the highest bidder. We’ve all just been told that, after months of negotiations, our Town leaders have entered into a 100+ page financial agreement with UPC Wind to sell the town for $10 million, to be paid over the next 20 years. During that time, in return, UPC Wind can and will do whatever it pleases with our town’s character, viewscapes, and politics.

What’s the problem with that?
- First of all, we don’t need UPC Wind’s money. Money is always nice, of course, but there is a difference between desire and need.
- Second, this is “funny money” that’s being put forward on a series (100+ pages worth) of carefully contingent promises.
- Third, there are already several layers of LLCs (Limited Liability Corporations) between the investors, their promises, and the Town. Many more will come over the next 20 years, so that by the time the cheating becomes obvious to everyone the originators of the scheme will already have taken their money and run.
- Fourth, what’s $10 million over 20 years in a project that’s going to cost $250 million, give or take, up front and reap its investors countless millions more in earnings and tax breaks? This is a deal?
- Fifth, sixth, seventh… the list can go on and on…

Who are we kidding?
By now UPC Wind must be laughing all the way to the bank. The rank deception and corruption of local politics that have characterized this entire process will only continue to accumulate unless men and women of good will rise to the occasion and take back our Town this fall. Visit us our main website, check out our “Updates” section, and then help us recall Cohocton from the brink.

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VN 8/14 - Green Power?

From the beginning, the idea of constructing a massive industrial wind power plant in Cohocton has been put forward as an environment gift, an unobtrusive enhancement of the rural countryside that will generate an endless supply of nearly free electricity without producing any CO2, a "totally green" project that has nothing but benefit - a "no-brainer" in YES! Wind Power's words. Can you believe that something so pure and good could actually bring something else that's green into town?

YES, indeed! Greenbacks, lots and lots of them!
- The green bottom line: We're about to be told just how much we might be paid for being so virtuous. It all depends, of course, but…
- We're going to get so much money, the story line goes, that even Scrooge McDuck will be jealous. Like Scrooge, we may have to get bulldozers to push the piles of cash around in our warehouses.
- Money for the schools, money for the Town, money for SCIDA, money for you and me in tax savings and leasehold payments.
- Bundles and bundles of cash, millions and millions of dollars, will come flooding in from our marvelous machines, just like the prophet Chris foretold when he first came to our little kingdom.

While all this promising is going on, many of us are receiving letters from the Harris Beach legal firm, which has been serving as counsel for the wind industry locally but in this case it is working for a group of litigants who are suing "Columbia Natural Resources, Inc., Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation, Columbia Energy Group, Columbia Energy Resources, and all their predecessors, successors, subsidiaries and parents, including but not limited to Columbia Natural Resources, LLC, Chesapeake Appalachia LLC and NiSource, Inc." for nearly $2,000,000 in gas royalties that we've been cheated out of.

Who really thinks UPC Wind Partners LLC, Canandaigua Power Partners I, Canandaigua Power Partners II, etc., etc. will be any more honest? Visit the Promises section of our main website, check out our "Updates" section, and then help us call our bedazzled neighbors back to reality.



VN 8/7 - Truth or Money?

250 Million Dollars is a lot of money. That’s the truth. It’s also a fair estimate of how much UPC Wind’s proposed industrial wind power project(s) will end up costing. The questions Cohocton’s citizens and leaders need to answer now are these: What else is true about UPC’s project(s)? and What influence does this amount of money have on people’s perception of the truth? As we all know, Truth often speaks in a still small voice. Money talks too, usually more loudly.

What is money saying in Cohocton these days?
- That UPC Wind and its outside sponsors can open a nice office, fund a staff, and conduct an expensive 2 year long public opinion campaign before they even turn an honest buck.
- That some people in Cohocton are already getting paid quite a bit, and a LOT more money will be “coming soon” (we just don’t have any PILOT or host agreements to “prove” it yet).
- That an enormous industrial wind turbine installation is really a quiet and unobtrusive farming enterprise.
- That we have 2 medium-sized projects here, not one huge one.
- That “supporting” civic groups and youth organizations publicly with outside campaign money indicates genuine caring.
- That Cohocton can help “save the planet” etc., etc.

Come on, neighbors. It’s time to wake up and follow the money trail a bit further. Who are we kidding? Who’s on the UPC payroll in town, both over and under the counter? When the facts finally come out (and they will), some folks might be very surprised. Others won’t.

Do you want to know the truth or would you rather press on and bear the consequences? Remember the time-honored warning that “all that glitters isn’t gold” and don’t let yourself be misled by money with all of its vain promises. Check out our main website, browse our “Updates” section, and then contact us to find out how you can help get out the vote this fall for people who will examine the facts more carefully and genuinely listen to all of us. Thanks!



VN 7/31 - Visual Impacts?

Over the past 15 months the leadership and residents of Cohocton have been flooded with data and analysis by UPC Wind as part of its lengthy application process. Why does it take so long to get a $250 million industrial power plant approved, anyway, especially if it's a "no-brainer" with no downside? After a while these DEIS, SDEIS, FEIS, etc. reports get so tiresome that people hardly read them any more. "Let's just get the project done," they say. Well, actually there are negative impacts - visual, noise, property values, and political corruption, to name several. Buried in UPC's most recent FEIS, for example, are some interesting findings about visual impact.

What do UPC's hired reviewers have to say?
"Visual impact of the project was increased in Viewpoint 110 with the addition of a foreground turbine to the view. The foreground turbine (approximately 0.25 mile from the viewer) presents significant scale contrast and becomes a dominant feature in the view. The composite visual impact rating from this viewpoint increased from 2.50 to 3.54 [scale 1.0-5.0]. This is consistent with findings of the VIA and SVIA, that viewpoints which include turbines at foreground distances (i.e., under 0.5 mile) are likely to have the greatest visual impact." (quote from page 29 in UPC's 319-page FEIS)

Well, where might we find turbines closer than half a mile? Answer: Along every road and near almost every house on Lent, Pine, Dutch, and Brown Hills. Won't that be pretty? Did UPC's study include many of these bad views? No, only one - they're not very good for selling their project.

Why should we trust a company that hides the truth at almost every turn? Browse our "Updates" section with special attention to the items labeled "Local Politics," come out to the "Special Meetings" of our Town Boards this week on Tuesday July 31st and Thursday August 2nd to see how our current leadership is handling things, and then help get out the vote this fall for people who will examine the facts more carefully and genuinely listen to all of us.

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VN 7/24 - Alice in Wonderland

Wayne Hunt has recently published 3 political articles (1, 2, 3) addressed to “Cohocton Voters” (and paid for by UPC Wind?) in which he criticizes those running against him in the upcoming Republican primary race of at least 4 serious shortcomings: Making wind power their primary focus, not being long-term incumbents, being members of a tiny fringe that hasn’t joined Cohocton civic organizations, and deluging us all with “Alice in Wonderland style delusions that insult the intelligence of the average citizen of the town.”

In contrast, what is Wayne Hunt running on?
- He identifies the breadth of his platform by calling his reelection campaign “Running on the Wind” and urging his supporters to put model wind turbines (also paid for by UPC?) in their front yards.
- He freely confesses to working tirelessly for “three long, hard years to bring a wind farm to Cohocton,” a project that’s been carefully kept away from the electorate the entire time.
- He lists all the worthy activities and accomplishments of Town government over the past several years as if they’re his own.
- He grossly underestimates both the number and the intelligence of those who have faithfully expressed legitimate and well-documented concerns about the process that’s been followed so far in the siting of industrial wind turbines in our town.

We have no doubt that Wayne and other members of our current Town Boards are sincere in their beliefs and desire to do what is right for Cohocton. We commend them for their sincerity. However, it’s very clear that their minds were made up years ago about wind power. No public dialogue has been fostered, just input and rebuttal.

We’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that it’s time for a major change. Check out our main website; browse through our “Updates” by clicking the label below to read those items addressing Local Politics (you might be particularly interested in this posting); and develop your own opinion about who’s been soaking up the Caterpillar’s fumes around here. Then help get out the vote this fall for people who will listen and represent all of our interests. Thanks!



VN 7/3 - Independence

Last week our Town Planning Board met "to continue with its review and consideration of the special use permits, site plan applications and the FEIS [Final Environmental Impact Statement] which have been submitted by Canandaigua Power Partners…" In the preceding public comment period, explicitly focused only on UPC's application for three more 250-foot test towers, Paul Wolcott gave the 80 Cohocton citizens assembled a brief lecture on representative government.

How did our leaders express representative government?

In true Tory style, Planning Board Chair Ray Schrader disallowed any further comment, stood up and read a long prepared legal resolution to the group, received a unanimous vote of approval from his Board for UPC Wind's FEIS - a document that included final revisions none of them had even seen yet, and then closed the meeting.

Where is our representation? I asked Ray after the meeting about our concerns and the pending Supreme Court case. He told me that Jack Zigenfus had instructed him to ignore them. Councilman Wayne Hunt has told us that their project will be going through "unless there is a Court injunction against it." So much for representation and the rule of law. Power and money are in control. Hungry for a truly independent point of view? Read our personal letter to the gentlemen named above, pray with us for justice, and then let your voice be heard!

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VN 6/26 - Imprudent Comments?

Last week's Valley News ran an ad from the YES! group extolling their vision for "Cohocton's Bright Future" and proclaiming that wind project construction would be starting "a few weeks from now." The ad went on to claim that everything has been "done right" by local government and that the result will be "beautiful wind farms that all the people of Cohocton will be proud of." And, as if this wasn't enough provocative content for one short article, the ad went even deeper.

What else did the YES people try to get us to believe?
- That our local government has been doing a "great job."
- That opposition is limited to "a few people that continue to spread rumors and lies about public officials and wind farms."
- That the Valley News has been publishing letters recently that "repeated stories that have long been proven false" or that their authors "were blatantly lying about."
- That "the handful of people that oppose wind farms have been making up stories and spreading rumors" without "living up to the fact that they were proven wrong."
- And that opponents have "tried so hard to cause dissention in our community through threats, rumors, and lies."

What?? It might come as a surprise to the YES chorus when they discover that their opposition turns out to be more numerous and in touch with the truth than they thought. For what could well prove to be a majority of Cohocton's citizens, plans to turn our town into an industrial power plant represent an ugly nightmare, not a "beautiful bright future." Only time and honest elections will tell.

In the meantime, make sure you come out to this week's Planning Board meeting at the Hatch Hose Fire Hall in Atlanta on Wednesday night, June 27, at 7 pm to voice your opinion about UPC's Final EIS submission and building permit plans. It sounds like they may be trying to railroad their project through.

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Planning Board Meeting

According to an article published by WETM:

A public hearing is set to happen on June 27th where town leaders in Cohocton are expected to grant developer UPC Wind the permits it needs to begin construction on close to 50 wind turbines across the farmland there... The June 27th public hearing is scheduled to happen at the Hatch Hose Fire Hall in Atlanta at 7 pm.
This is an essential meeting. Please do what you can to attend on Wednesday evening and voice your opinion.

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VN 6/12 - Prudent Delays

Last week an Evidentiary Hearing was conducted by a Public Service Commission (PSC) Law Judge in Bath. The hearing was held because two groups advocating for the proper siting of industrial wind turbines had objected to the request by UPC Wind for a certificate of necessity from the PSC. The Town of Naples and NYSEG were also involved as intervenors. The two central issues addressed were 1) the proposed Clipper Liberty 2.5 MW turbines and their certification and reliability to provide safe energy, and 2) the design and layout of the substations and 115kv transmission lines for the Cohocton Wind project.

What evidence was presented at the Evidentiary Hearing?
- Under oath UPC stated repeatedly that the project is still in the design stage with many unresolved issues with different components.
- Permission from landowners for the overhead transmission lines is causing problems with the layout. There may also be a problem with turbine leases not being obtained and filed in a legal manner.
- UPC was lacking many of the documents that PSC staff had asked for. At one point the issue of a report possibly being too costly to provide was discussed by Mr. Swartley.
- Wind data as well as turbine reliability information is confidential according to UPC, who also claimed that the results of geological tests conducted at the turbine sites were not available as requested.

The hearing apparently raised more questions than answers. Since the project is not yet finalized it would seem many more site plan reviews and public hearings may yet to be conducted. Wisely, our Planning Board has postponed further decision-making for the time being.

At Cohocton Free we believe in the old adage that "the wheels of God grind extremely fine." In other words, man plans but ultimately divine justice will prevail. Browse our main website; check out some of the other items in our "Updates" section; read our recent Proposal for breaking the deadlock; and then contact us for a yard sign if you agree!

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VN 6/5 - What Outcome?

Last year at this time it looked almost certain - UPC Wind would be putting up about 42 wind towers on our hills, each about 405 feet high, with 2.0 MW Gamesa turbines on them. Since then, however, the legal process mandated by New York has been slowly moving through its various stages while the developer has been trying to extend its grasp.

Where do we stand now, and what will be the outcome?
- UPC has expanded its project(s) and is now proposing 52 wind towers, each 425 feet high, with 2.5 MW Clipper turbines on them.
- The project has become so large that it needs permission from the Public Service Commission, which is asking some tough questions like "Why aren't your Clipper turbines certified?"
- Local Law #2, passed by our Town Board last fall to accommodate the developer's plans, is being reviewed by Supreme Court Justice Marianne Furfure and may be thrown out.
- The Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice is actively looking into allegations of illegal geographic market allocation, price fixing, and bid rigging by UPC Wind and the wind industry.
- Rumors are flying that UPC is replacing Chris Swartley as its front man and that some leaseholders and Planning Board members are beginning to wake up and smell the coffee.

How much more do we have to see before the plain truth begins to dawn on us, that there is deep corruption in this pot, not gold? Pride and greed go before a fall. Can we learn before we suffer any further, or will we continue to press ahead and bear the consequences?

We believe in the old adage that "the wheels of God grind extremely fine." In other words, man plans but ultimately divine justice will prevail. Will we cooperate with the gentle promptings of truth or require a big stick? Browse our main website; check out some of the other items in our Updates section; read our recent Proposal for breaking the deadlock; and then contact us for a yard sign if you agree!



VN 5/29 - Support Leaders

Lately UPC Wind and its YES! group have been spending about $100 a week, week after week, advertising their local office and exhorting us to “SHOW YOUR SUPPORT for your TOWN & PLANNING BOARDS.” As noble and worthy as these sentiments may be, misplaced trust and group loyalty could end up paying very poor rewards. Citizens of good will who favor community order and stability need to ask:

What does it mean to support your leaders?
- First it means honoring those who have been invested with trust and supporting them personally with encouragement and prayer.
- Next it means sharing your honest insights, information, and personal feelings about Town business with them, with hope and confidence that they are actually interested in hearing from you.
- It means expecting them to exercise their mandate on behalf of all of the Town’s residents and holding them to that mandate.
- And it means continuing to support them when they come under undue political pressure from well financed outside interests by offering them ethical and sensible alternatives to caving in.

But what do the UPC Wind ads mean when they ask for support? Clearly they want you to become a YES! Man like them, one who continues to pressure our local leaders to turn a deaf ear to the legitimate concerns of fellow Townsmen and tow UPC’s line to the bitter end. Thankfully, it looks like our Planning Board is beginning to grasp some of the full meaning of what is going on in Cohocton, and for that they have our full support. Good projects don’t need to be railroaded through.

At Cohocton Free we believe in a democratic process that encourages the active input of every member of the community. Support means participation to us, not continuing to demand a YES when so many in the community are saying NO. Browse our main website; read our recent Proposal for breaking the deadlock; check out some of our latest “Updates”; and then contact us for a yard sign!

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VN 5/15 - Cohocton in Court

Last week our Town was called into Supreme Court before Justice Marianne Furfure to give an account of its behavior in passing Local Law #2. Why did our leaders bypass review under the SEQRA, and how did they reconcile legally paving the way for an industrial wind project with Cohocton’s Comprehensive Zoning Plan? What did Judge Furure want to know? According to the Bath Leader, she questioned whether there should be expert proof of potential harm, what standards are reasonable and practical, and whether the town “short-circuited” the process. “It's hard for me to say this isn't any big deal,” she said. “You're setting the protocol, the standards, you're setting the stage.”

The response of our Town attorneys was illustrative:
- Local Law #2 wasn’t passed with the UPC Wind project in mind, they testified with straight faces. It was done to protect the Town.
- They indicated that their Albany attorney, Mr. John Henry, had been chosen to represent the whole town, not UPC’s interests.
- They alleged that Local Law #2 couldn’t have any environmental impact because it didn’t actually set up any turbines by itself.
- They tried to claim that the Cohocton residents who brought the lawsuit really didn’t have any legal “standing” to complain.
- Were they contrite or conciliatory? Not a bit.

The author of the Sermon on the Mount advises us to, “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.” We’ve heard these words before, and many others like them, and say we believe. But when push comes to shove, how do we behave?

Is this a winner-take-all fight? At Cohocton Free we believe there’s still a path of compromise leaseholders and our Town leaders can pursue that will respect the wishes and preserve not only the rights of both sides but the integrity of our community. Curious? Click here to read our 5/8/07 proposal online or here to download a PDF version.

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VN 5/8 - A modest proposal

People live in Cohocton for a lot of reasons. Some were born here and have land that was passed down to them over generations. Others are relative newcomers who’ve lived here less than 25 years, a few moving into the area very recently. Many are farmers; others work elsewhere and have chosen to live or retire here; and an increasing number have purchased and developed vacation property on and around our scenic hills. Tourism is growing in the region, while agricultural economics are becoming more difficult.

These choices represent two distinct visions of what Cohocton is:
- For those who farm it’s primarily a place of industry where you can support a family with hard work and careful use of the land.
- For most of the remainder, the 3-R (residential, retirement, and recreational) owners, it’s a place of rest where you can enjoy peace and quiet in a rural atmosphere away from the city.
- Residential owners appreciate being in a small town where you can make friends and raise a family in safety.
- Many of those who have chosen to retire here were drawn by the breathless natural beauty and tranquility of the land.
- And most recreational owners searched the region for years before they found the place of their dreams in Cohocton.

Residents on both sides of the “industry” vs. “rest” division have been able to live alongside one another happily for years. There have been some rubs, of course, with farm equipment noise, hunters, ATVs, and snowmobiles, but overall the town has been at peace. Enter UPC Wind with its proposal to add a massive industrial wind turbine project into the mix, and we have a formula for social disaster that promises to benefit farmers at the expense of the 3-R owners that surround them.

Is this a winner-take-all fight? At Cohocton Free we believe there’s still a path of compromise leaseholders and our Town leaders can pursue that will respect the wishes and preserve the rights of both sides. Curious? Click here to read our proposal.

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CWW Article 78 in Court

Judge Marianne Furfure will hear the Cohocton Wind Watch Article 78 against the Town of Cohocton, NY on Windmill Local Law #2 on Tuesday, May 8, 2007 at 10:00 AM in Supreme Court, 3 East Pulteney Square, Bath, New York.

This action contests the compliance with SEQRA on the passage of the second town law that modifies the zoning statute that allows the UPC industrial wind turbine project.

It was stipulated in court that the Town of Cohocton, in the first Article 78 action against Windmill Law Local #1, did not follow SEQRA.

CWW contends that the Town Board has passed a windmill law to specifically accommodate the developer, UPC Wind (aka Canandaigua Power Partners I & II, LLCs), which has proposed two projects when both are contingent and part of one large development. UPC Prattsburgh is also a project of this same two township development.

Counsel for CWW is Richard Lippes and David Miller.

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VN 5/1 - The People Speak

Last Thursday night the people of Cohocton spoke again. The Town Planning Board held another Public Hearing in the Elementary School, and citizens came from all over town to give their input. Probably 3/4 of those who rose to speak shared articulate concerns about specific site placements, setback distances, noise levels, unrecognized legal and insurance issues, and unresolved procedural problems. But what did wind power supporters have to say? For the whole story, click here to read our article in this week's Valley News.

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Turbine Town

Hans Daatselaar has written a moving open letter in this week's Valley News that merits the full read of a wider audience. As he starts out

The Statue of Liberty represents the triumph of democratic society over tyranny and corruption. As a New York Harbor tugboat pilot I am almost always in the presence of this great American symbol of freedom and democracy. But lately it's the site of this beautiful statue that reminds me of the failed democratic system of government in my hometown and the distressing divisions among residents of this community 300 miles away.
Click here to read the entire letter.

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VN 4/24 - What Can You Do?

UPC Wind’s industrial bandwagon seems to be rolling along in Cohocton with its faithful crew of paid supporters, hired studies, legal counselors and compliant local officials. Reams of factual material about the project’s negligible effect on greenhouse gases, negative impact on adjacent properties, and fraudulently underestimated noise has fallen on deaf ears. After a brief series of pro-forma “hearings” our Planning Board seems poised to rubber stamp Special Use Permits for 52 giant turbines in our Town submitted by UPC in two segmented applications, as if they really have two projects in town, not one.

Who are they fooling, and what can you do about it? First, be sure you attend the Planning Board meeting this Thursday evening, 4/26, at 7 pm in the Cohocton Elementary School. In the meantime, please read our article in this week's Valley News for some other ideas and references. Thanks!

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VN 4/17 - Unrighteousness

There's an old maxim that the end doesn't justify the means. In other words, no matter how admirable a goal may be, using improper means to attain it is never appropriate. This truth seems to be lost on ardent wind power supporters in Cohocton, including UPC Wind, its paid promoters and leaseholders, and our Town's elected and appointed officials, all of whom have taken the public posture that they are law-abiding, responsive to community concerns, and follow due process. But what does the record show? Read our article in this week's Valley News and then do whatever you can to become part of the solution.

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VN 4/10 - Disenfranchisement

There may be a few letters published by the YES! group in this week’s issue of The Valley News that complain about how badly wind project critics have been behaving at the recent site review meetings being hosted by our Planning Board. They probably won’t tell you about their own misbehavior or why neighboring landowners might be upset. In fact, they may claim the whole thing is about rudeness, completely ignoring their own initiation of the confrontation. We think the problem, however, has more to do with disenfranchisement. Read our article and then let us know what you think.

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The Law - Letter or Spirit?

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church millenia ago he compared and contrasted two approaches to life - trying to live according the letter of the law or seeking to follow after its spirit or intent. In Paul's estimation, the first way led to death while the second led to life. Of course he was referring to the Biblical law, which is righteous in both its letter and intent, not to many of our human laws which are corrupt in both.

What law do we say we are following in Cohocton? When it comes to windmills, the law cited is Local Law #2 (LL#2), enacted by our Town Board in late 2006. Serious questions have been raised about its "letter", which UPC Wind and its supporters are using as their guide. But what about the spirit or intent of this Law? According to a recent NY Department of State publication about the functions of a Zoning Board of Appeals,

A zoning law is a community's guide to its future development. That is its purpose. It is not meant to be just another governmental intrusion, another bit of red tape to be untangled before the property owner can go ahead with his plans. The protections afforded residents and property owners within the community from undesirable development come from the restrictiveness of zoning. Traditionally, zoning is characterized by pre-set regulations contained in the ordinance or local law, and applicable uniformly within each district. A landowner can look at the zoning map and regulations and know that if he follows them, he has a right to use his land in a certain way, and that neighboring property is subject to the same restrictions. But, because all land in the district is subject to the same rules, and because no two parcels of land are precisely the same, problems can arise.

Can a landowner do anything they wish on their own land? Not if the very purpose of zoning is respected. Was LL#2 written with the proper intent in mind? Patently not. The clear purpose of LL#2 was to permit and promote a preconceived wind power project that was already nearly fully developed by UPC Wind well prior to the enactment of the law. Setting aside the provisions of Cohocton's master zoning plan, our Town leaders passed a law with setbacks that were obviously designed to accommodate the desires of a specific developer, not to protect the legitimate interests of surrounding landowners.

Thus, while following the letter of LL#2 will definitely lead to contention and loss of community life, even following the spirit of laws like this won't produce a good result. Want to drive one of your town's judges to curse his neighbors at a public meeting? Just pass an unrighteous law and then rile your community up by riding it into the ground. If you want to make sure you get bad results, mix in some political manipulation that actually twists and breaks other laws along the way and then challenge your fellow-citizens to bring you to court. Brothers and sisters, there must be a better way.

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VN 4/3 - Early Site Review

Last week the public unveiling began. The Cohocton Planning Board hosted the first of several "Special Meetings" for the preliminary review of UPC Wind's site plans for its proposed turbine towers. UPC was there in force with its diagrams, legal counsel, public relations people, and local supporters in green YES! shirts. But neighbors whose property lines adjoin the 12 proposed tower sites being considered were there in large numbers also and had a lot to say.

What was the tenor and gist of the evening? Read our article in this week's Valley News, check our Community Calendar for dates, and then come out to some of Cohocton's public meetings and see for yourself what's happening.

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VN 3/27 - Finger Lakes Life

One of the problems we face in Cohocton is one of identity: are we primarily an isolated rural agricultural community, or are we an active part of New York's Finger Lakes region? Do our future hopes lie in the industrialization of farmland, or have we been given some precious but untapped residential, retirement, and recreational resources? Cohocton is nestled in among some of the most beautiful hills and valleys in the region, right off the Expressway, and just 12 miles from Canandaigua Lake. For an increasing number of people it's become an idyllic place of rest and refreshment. If we allow a wind farm to get established, however, the die will be cast. We're convinced that wind development in our Town is a poor idea. What about you? Read our article in this week's Valley News and then let us know what you think.

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A grateful reader

Hello Bill,

I just found your website and just want to say thank goodness for you and people like you. I am a 62 year old welder living in Fairport, NY. We have a cottage in Cape Vincent and are going through the wind turbine nightmare right now. I read some of your site so far. There are 3 proposed "farms" up there. Two in Cape Vincent and one in Clayton with about 300 windmills total I believe. I just feel that the local supporters up there have totally lost their minds. Cottage owners have no vote on anything. We just get to pay lots of taxes. Thank you very much for your informative site and all the great work you have done.

Doug Ryon



VN 3/13 - The Bottom Line

A lot of things have been said in favor of industrializing the Town of Cohocton with an a wind power project that’s larger than anything like it in New England, but we often wonder what the real bottom line is. What’s really going on here? Why are people so dead set on changing the character of our Town so dramatically? Is it to save the planet from global warming? To increase tax revenues? To save farms? To make money? To prove a political point about who’s in charge? A few recent Valley News articles are beginning to give us the answer. Read our article in this week's VN and then add your voice to the community discussion.

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VN 3/6 - “Vague What Ifs”

It’s interesting to watch the public debate going on in the pages of The Valley News. On the one hand are those who are concerned about inappropriate industrial wind development in our Town. We post articles and letters at our own expense. On the other hand is the steady stream of letters being published by UPC’s YES group. We wonder how many of these letters would appear if their writers were paying out of their own pockets. Last week “The Farmer’s Wife” held forth again and accused us of trying to stall a wind project she’s known about for 4 years with “vague what ifs.”

It must be frustrating for leaseholders to have to deal with citizens like us who’ve had less than a year to study it. But what have we found out in our 10 months of study? Read our article in this week's Valley News for some highlights that are far from vague.



VN 2/27 - A Lot of Nothing

Recently a farming UPC Wind leaseholder wrote an opinion piece in The Valley News in which he said, “except for Agriculture and a few stores in Cohocton, there is nothing in Cohocton.” Unfortunately, this seems to be the narrow mindset of many local wind power supporters, a view that leaves out a large majority of our Town’s citizens. We appreciate the heritage and contribution that agriculture makes in our community, but we beg to disagree that there is nothing else here. What (or should we say who) else is in the Town of Cohocton? Our article in this week's Valley News opens the question and puts forward a partial answer. What do you think?

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VN 2/20 - But what if?

Industrial wind developers use several selling points when they present their proposals to Town leaders and potential leaseholders. The threat of global warming and the goal of replacing dependence on oil with renewable, clean, non-polluting energy sources is brought forward. Then landowners are sold on the idea that they can do the planet a big favor and make easy money year after year for themselves and their community just by allowing wind towers to be erected. All of this is presented as a beautiful, quiet, unobtrusive enterprise that will bless the next generation. No downside in sight…

But what if none of this is really true?
What if the whole thing proves to be a scam — a rip-off of tax dollars and the ecology that our children and everyone else in our community ends up seeing very clearly? Read our article in this week's Valley News, then read through the outstanding response to UPC Wind's SDEIS that Brad Jones submitted to our Planning Board last week. We're convinced that it's time to call a moratoriam on this whole project, at the very least.

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Dynamics of Social Activism

One of the serious liabilities of wind power speculation is that it divides communities that were once quite united. People find themselves in two “camps” arguing for and defending their positions, even when evidence is presented that would otherwise persuade them to change their minds. I recently read an article by Denny Wayman in Light & Life Magazine (exerpted below) that sheds some light on the subject.

“It should not be surprising to learn that social action comes from our social (or group) identity. In primal neurological ways, each of us identifies with a specific group. In fact, this is so primary that group membership, like gender and age, 'is encoded in memory quickly, involuntarily and persistently.’ We have 'specialized neural circuitry to process’ group characteristics and group membership (Sean McLennan, March 2003).

“This biological, neurological, psychological aptitude for belonging to our group means that we share at a deep level the group’s social ideals and definitions. We will 'quickly, involuntarily and persistently’ identify with our group’s view. This psychology works well when we identify with a 'healthy, biblical community.’ However, if our identity becomes defined by a disordered group, then we will share their disordered views.

“It should also come as no surprise that we are most able to bring about change in a group when we are perceived as belonging to it. Since group identity is reinforced by both positive and negative descriptions, a group can become more solidified when a member of another group tries to change something that even the original group considers harmful. A member within the group will be far more effective in bringing about that change.”

Observations like these help explain why members of the YES group are so eager to label those who disagree with them as “outsiders” who don't share the Town's values. Characterizing us in this way helps insulate them from receiving constructive input from people who otherwise would have been received as intelligent and helpful neighbors. By identifying themselves with UPC Wind (“Yes! Wind Power for Cohocton is a group of concerned citizens who support the UPC Wind Turbine Project proposed for our community”), this group has chosen to adopt the developer's views as its own. But what if the developer's views are disordered?

We need to be praying for one another for wisdom, unity, and the ability to open our ears to hear the truth together once again.



VN 2/13 - The Politics of Wind

It's been 10 months now since UPC Wind first notified the general public in Cohocton about its plans to build an industrial power plant on all of our hilltops, kicking off the mandated State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process. Ever since then the local political scene has been buzzing. Our article in this week's Valley News addresses some of the political dynamics operating in our community. At Cohocton Free, however, we're more interested in the facts about wind turbines than we are in politics. Will they really reduce CO2 emissions? Are they properly sited? Have the SDEIS and DEIS studies been done properly for SEQR? Is the community aware of the whole story? Are we rushing into something we’ll regret later? We’re confident that truth will eventually triumph over half-truths.

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Public Hearing Behavior

Two weeks ago I posted a news report about the Public Hearing hosted by our Planning Board to receive community input on the Pine/Lent Hill SDEIS and Dutch Hill DEIS. As I indicated, I thought the meeting went well overall, given the level of energy in the community that's been raised by this issue. Many of those who were critical of UPC Wind's intiative(s) had clearly read through the SDEIS/DEIS material carefully and offered specific comments about particular aspects in each report. Others were critical of the one-sided way the process has been handled by our Town leaders so far, a problem that only seems to be getting worse. It was clear from Chris Swartley's presentation on behalf of UPC Wind, for instance, that UPC fully expects the Planning Board to give their final approval within a month so that the permit process can move forward, giving the clear appearance that January 19th's "hearing" was really only for show.

Speakers were asked to the podium in the order in which they had signed in, somehow leaving most of those who spoke on behalf of the project toward the end of the list. Their comments were generally brief, had little if anything specific to say about either the SDEIS or DEIS, and expressed primarily their ongoing support of the project. Several were leaseholders. There were bursts of applause and vocal expressions of support or dismay during and after several presentations throughout the evening, but certainly nothing as loud or emotional as one might experience at a hotly contested a sports event. All in all, the evening actually went better than one could have expected.

However, that was all before last week's Valley News came out. To read the entire page of comments published there by YES! supporters, you'd think the meeting was a shocking display of social disorder on the part of wind critics "that showed their total lack of respect for our entire system of American government" complete with "jeering, and taunting... parading through the gym trying to distract everyone." Those who opposed the project were accused in print of avoiding commentary on the SDEIS/DEIS documents and using the meeting "to call a great-grandfather names and to verbally attack him after the meeting." Another sponsored writer said critics "ridiculed the handicapped... and mocked and made slanderous comments toward local officials." Still another said "their tactics included false statements, bullying, and the threat of lawsuits." And on and on.

Ladies and Gentlemen. My wife and I were among the first of those to arrive and the last to leave. I spoke early on and listened carefully to every speaker. I've been to lots of meetings in my life, and this one was spirited, to be sure, but not at all the way you've depicted it. Let's get real here. This is American democracy in action, not its antithesis. Sadly, many of your comments are such gross exaggerations that they spill over into complete misrepresentations of the truth. It looks like you've become so emotionally entangled in this project that you're becoming false witnesses.

Honestly, can't we do better than this?

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VN 1/30 - Economic Engine?

In an ad in last week's Valley News, Town Board member Wayne Hunt, an ardent supporter of UPC Wind's local projects, proclaims that the proposed wind farms will be “the most significant economic engine that we have ever had.” We know these are difficult times for a number of citizens but wonder if turning the Town of Cohocton into a giant power plant is really the solution. We have a good base in our local economy already, some new but much of which has been carried by faithful families for generations. Are we in a crisis? Isn't there a better way to move forward together as a community? Our article in this week's Valley News opens up the subject and responds to some of Wayne's other points along the way. Your comments are welcome.

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WCCS Does It Right

We've all received an 8-page packet of information from Superintendent Michael Wetherbee at the school district asking for public input about Propositions 1 & 2 for renovations and pool expansion at the school. A public hearing will be held on January 30th, followed by voting on the Propositions on February 13th. What do we like about this whole enterprise? In several words, our school administration has done it right:

1) They've laid the whole thing out to the public - project details, financials, and public process - in a well-done publication.
2) They've done their homework, found the resources, and have cogent answers.
3) All totaled, it's an $11 million project with no downside that will enhance our community measurably.
4) Taxpayers know almost exactly how much it will cost and what they will get for their money.
5) And still, with all the "no-brainer" aspects of this, the whole matter is being put to a vote. The citizens will decide.

Read through the Special Edition of the Eye of the Eagle we've posted online, ask our school district any questions you want, and then come out and vote on February 13.

It would have been very nice if our Town Fathers had entrusted the citizens of this community with as much respect when they took on UPC Wind's ever-changing $125+ million project.

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Public Meeting News, 1/19

Public Hearing Brings Good Turnout

Last Friday's public hearing, sponsored by the Cohocton Planning Board to address the Lent/Pine Hill SDEIS and new Dutch Hill DEIS brought a good turnout of concerned citizens, both pro and con, to the Elementary School auditorium. Supporters, many in green sweatshirts or jackets and wearing YES hats, mostly sat in one section, while critics gathered on the other side of the aisle and in the back bleachers. Time was limited due to a deadline at the school and the number of attendees who had signed in to speak. Overall, the crowd was respectful although chuckles and expressions of disagreement were scattered here and there throughout several presentations. Speakers with critical commentary probably outnumbered those with supportive comments by about 2 to 1, but all were passionate in their appeals to the Planning Board and assembled audience.

We've gathered several of Friday night's submissions here for your review, including analyses by Don Sandford, James and Judi Hall, Bonnie and Karl Palmiter, and Robert Strasburg. Richard Bolton submitted an excellent scientific critique of the SDEIS/DEIS Noise and Shadow Flicker reports that we will try to post as soon as it is available. If you have commentary that you're submitting to the Planning Board (deadline February 15) and would like it posted on our site, just send it along as an attachment to the email address provided in our Blogger profile.

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VN 1/16 - Important Meeting

Unbeknown to many people the UPC wind power proposal in Cohocton has undergone a number of changes since it was first presented publicly 9 months ago. These revisions have been so extensive that they’ve triggered another public review under the provisions of New York’s SEQR Act. The first Public Meeting is scheduled for this coming Friday evening, January 19th at 7 pm in the auditorium at the Wayland-Cohocton Elementary School on Park Avenue in Cohocton.

Read our full article in this week's Valley News, visit our main website for a graphic presentation of UPC’s latest pictures, and then follow the following links to the material being discussed: Lent/Pine Hill SDEIS and Dutch Hill DEIS. Please prepare yourself as a citizen by reviewing as much of this material as you can before coming to the Public Meeting on the 19th to express your opinion. Thanks!

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VN 1/9 - Exploitation

Some people thought it was cute, but others recognized it for what it really was, crass exploitation. For the holidays, UPC Wind sponsored a“coloring contest” in Cohocton’s elementary school and published pictures of the winners in The Valley News. The object? To use our children to make their controversial wind project look kid-friendly. Read our response in this week's Valley News and let us know what you think.

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CWW Files Article 78

On December 20, 2006, Cohocton Wind Watch and a number of Cohocton residents filed an Article 78 lawsuit against the Town to annul the passage of Local Law #2 of 2006, which purports to regulate the siting, construction and operation of windmills within the Town. The petitioners claim that the law was passed without required environmental review, and violated various other zoning procedures.

James Hall, a member of Cohocton Wind Watch and a petitioner in the lawsuit stated that "we all live in Cohocton because we love and appreciate the beautiful rural and agricultural nature of our Town. These huge industrial windmills will destroy this quality of life."

The case has been assigned to Judge Mary Anne Furfure, and will be heard at the Steuben County Courthouse in Bath on January 16, 2007 at 10:00 AM. Richard Lippes of Buffalo, NY and David Miller of Naples, NY are the attorneys for the petitioners.

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VN 12/12 - Determination?

Looking over the recent actions of Cohocton’s elected officials makes one thing very clear: they haven’t deviated at all from their goal to facilitate the industrialization our Town’s hills with a massive wind turbine installation. No amount of appeal, remonstration, or criticism from citizens has altered their course in the slightest. Passing Windmill Law #2 (and trying to finesse SEQR in the process) is just the latest in a series of actions that cater to only one segment of our community. Are you starting to get fed up? If you’re not already involved, this might be the time to start. Please read our article in this week's Valley News and click on the links provided to review LL#2 and the Town's SEQR ploy. Keep in mind while you're reading them that our elected officers would like you to believe that they wrote these documents themselves. Then get in touch with us to share your thoughts and find out how you can help.



VN 11/28 - Hope or Hype?

According to a press release published on the YES! Weblog, Clipper Windpower has signed a contract with a subsidiary of UPC Wind to supply 50 Clipper 2.5 MW wind turbines for projects UPC plans to develop in the northeastern U.S. during 2007. People locally have apparently been told these are for Cohocton. The article goes on to say, “UPC Wind is one of the world’s largest and most successful wind power companies. Formed in 2001 to pursue wind energy development, financing, construction, operation and ownership in North America, it is currently developing over 3,000 MW of wind power projects.” Our article in this week's Valley News asks the question: How much of this announcement should we believe?



VN 11/21 - Bait & Switch?

Has UPC Wind been using "bait and switch" sales techniques in Cohocton? Our article in this week's Valley News reviews the way UPC's wind power project has been presented locally and asks some tough questions. Here's another one: We've already gone from 1.5 to 2.0 and now 2.5 MW turbines in a year. When will we start hearing about the 3.6 MW units?

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VN 11/14 - Windmill Law #2

It appears that our Town Board is poised to pass yet another fatally flawed Law on November 21 in its attempt to satisfy UPC Wind and its leaseholders. This Law is so vulnerable that there will undoubtedly be lawsuits and legal fees, and failure in the courts is so predictable that our elected leaders are trying to get the Town to indemnify them. Who are we kidding? Read our article in this week's Valley News for a discussion of some of the proposed Law's problems.

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Extended terms turned down

This week voters in Cohocton soundly defeated Proposition No. 1 that asked: Shall the Terms of Office for the Cohocton Town Supervisor, Cohocton Town Clerk, and the Cohocton Highway Superintendent be changed to four years terms? According to the Steuben County Board of Elections, the final voter tally stands at 210 for and 268 against. Local leaders may rightfully interpret these results as an informal referendum on the way they are handling the wind power issue. We hope and pray that they begin to pay closer attention to the mind of the electorate they have pledged themselves to serve.

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Call for a Moratorium

Earlier this week the Cohocton Town Board sponsored a Public Meeting to review the proposed "Windmill Law #2". Many speakers gave well-researched and impassioned presentations to our Board, expressing their serious reservations and asking for time to reconsider before moving forward. Here are a number of links to the reports they submitted that are well worth reading: Cohocton Wind Watch, Richard Bolton, Paul Gettys, James Hall, James and Shannon Lince, David Miller, Don Sandford, and Robert Strasburg. We agree with these and others who are raising their voices in a chorus asking for a moratorium on wind power development in our Town. Please let our local leaders know where you stand.

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VN 10/24 - A Moratorium?

A lot has happened in Cohocton since UPC Wind unveiled their massive wind power proposal in April, but in many ways things are no clearer now than they were 6 months ago. Serious problems with the developer's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and the SEQR process, conflicts with the Town's Comprehensive Zoning Plan, and a worsening division in the community have surfaced. Now another developer, Empire Wind Energy, has arrived on the scene with an alternative that might answer concerns on both sides of the controversy. How do we move forward? Our article in this week's Valley News recommends a Moratorium on wind power development in our Town and the establishment of a community forum to work out the problems. Is our current leadership up to the challenge, or are they arriving at the table with their minds already made up? Please read our article and then come out to tonight's Public Meeting at the Cohocton Elementary School to voice your opinion.

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VN 10/17 - Appeasement?

Last month the Cohocton Town Supervisor was quoted in the Hornell Evening Tribune as saying, "I can't spend all my time trying to appease these anti-wind people." Our article in this week's Valley News wonders out loud what kind of appeasement Jack is talking about. We empathize with the difficulties that Town governments have been having throughout the southern tier as they grapple with a literal invasion of industrial wind power developers. Massive and controversial projects are being proposed that bring complex issues and raise strong feelings. But blaming the problems of government on those who raise legitimate questions seems somewhat lop-sided. Please read our article and then let people know what you think.



Proposed "Windmill Law #2"

The Cohocton Town Board appears poised to pass "Windmill Law #2" to replace the seriously flawed one it passed in January. Both laws were crafted by UPC Wind, but the developer's hand and paid legal counsel are even more evident in #2 than they were in #1. There are two vital public meetings coming up for community input on Thursday 10/19 and Tuesday 10/24, both being held at the Cohocton Elementary School. Please read the new law, then come out and voice your concerns.

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VN 10/10 - Who is Lying?

Recently opponents of UPC Wind’s proposed turbine project have been publicly accused of “insulting” town officials, “costing all the taxpayers of Cohocton thousands of dollars” and expecting us “to forget all of their lies and misinformation.” But where are the “lies and misinformation” coming from? Our article in this week's Valley News opens up the question and asks us all to do some soul-searching. How can we come together and decide what's best for our community?



CWW Response to Critics

It has been stated in recent weeks that Cohocton Wind Watch has changed its position and is now in favor of wind turbines. As you can see by our mission statement we were never against wind turbines. Cohocton Wind Watch is against poorly planned wind turbine projects that are damaging to many in the community. We are against projects that decrease property values, cause health problems, are safety hazards, and that only benefit a few members of the community.

If wind turbines are going to come to this area shouldn't the project be something we all agree on? Shouldn't the project put something back into the community?

Now is the time to decide what the best deal is for the Town of Cohocton. Is it UPC, Empire, or no turbines at all? You decide.

Members of CWW do not believe that either wind developer has proven that there is enough consistent wind to make the project financially viable. We also believe that developers should be required to locate turbines within a specific industrial zoned site. Placement of up to 500' turbines anywhere in the township is a fatal flaw of the proposed Wind Mill Local Law #2.

Members of Cohocton Wind Watch stand firmly where they always have, trying to do what is best for all residents of Cohocton, not just a few.

Jim Hall, Cohocton Wind Watch

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VN 10/3 - Hypocrisy?

The wind power debate in Cohocton took another bad turn when one of our local tax assessors revealed his partiality to a specific private developer by openly accusing Cohocton Wind Watch members of "hypocrisy" in a long letter published two weeks ago in The Valley News. Our article this week addresses his charge. Our primary hope is that the citizens of Cohocton will seek a common solution to the community crisis that's been visited upon us by examining all the alternatives impartially and making a completely informed decision. We believe there are too many unanswered questions, several having to do with finances and taxation, to forge ahead now.

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October Public Meetings

Cohocton Town Board 2007 budget meeting
Wednesday, 10/4, 7:00 - 8:30 pm at the Atlanta Court Offices, 19 Main St., Atlanta, NY

Court Hearing Prattsburgh Article 78 against SCIDA
Thursday, 10/5, 2:00 – 5:00 pm at the Hall of Justice, Judge Galloway Supreme Court, Public Safety Building, Rochester, NY

Cohocton Planning Board regular meeting
Thursday, 10/5, 7:30 - 9:30 pm at the Atlanta Court Offices

Empire State Wind Energy informational meeting
Community presentation on alternative wind project
Wednesday, 10/11, 7:00 - 9:30 pm at the Cohocton Elementary School, 30 Park Ave., Cohocton, NY

Cohocton Town Board regular meeting
Tuesday, 10/17, 7:30 - 9:30 pm at the Atlanta Court Offices

Cohocton Wind Watch informational meeting
Thursday, 10/19, 7:00 - 9:30 pm at the Cohocton Elementary School

Cohocton Town Board public meeting
Tuesday, 10/24, 7:00 - 9:30 pm at the Cohocton Elementary School

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Board poised to OK?

An article in today's Evening Tribune reports that the Cohocton Town Board has taken another step toward adopting "Windmill Law #2" as part of its stated plan to prepare the way for the development of an industrial wind power plant in the Town. Opposition from members of the Cohocton Wind Watch group has made his job so emotionally draining, according to Supervisor Jack Zigenfus, that he is seriously considering resigning from his position. That would be quite a move! Work overtime to push through a massive industrial development against significant citizen opposition and then leave the dirty work of carrying the project through to others. I seriously doubt that it would be any easier for him to deal with opposition from the project's supporters, should he ever choose to resist the developer's plans. Frankly, I think he'd find himself facing a pretty nasty group going the other way...

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VN 9/5 - Is This a War?

Emotions have been running high around town, and some people are starting to think we're in some kind of war. We'd like to see the tone of discussion settle down a bit to allow for more open dialogue. Read our article here, and then let us know what you think.

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September Town Meetings

Special Meeting Cohocton Town Board
Wednesday, 9/6, 7:30 - 8:30 pm at the Atlanta Court Offices, 19 Main St, Atlanta, NY.

Regular Meeting Cohocton Planning Board
Thursday, 9/7, 7-8 pm at the Atlanta Court Offices.

Community Meeting with Senator George H. Winners, Jr.
Monday, 9/18, 12:00 - 12:30 pm, at the Cohocton Town Hall, 15 S. Main St., Cohocton, NY. Assemblyman Jim Baccalles will also

Regular Meeting Cohocton Town Board
Wednesday, 9/19, 7:30 - 8:30 pm at the Atlanta Court Offices.

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VN 8/8 - Who's in Charge?

Our Valley News article this week addresses the question of how a Town makes a decision as large as the one we're contemplating. Is it best left to the Town Board, or should it involve the whole community in some substantive way? And what about our outdated Comprehensive Zoning Plan? Click here to read the article, and then give us some feedback. Thanks!



Response to Pat Drum

Pat Drum wrote an article published by "YES! Wind Power" in last week's Valley News entitled "The Farmer's Wife" that covered a lot of ground. I was taken aback by the intensity of her frustration and devoted quite a bit of time to a thoughtful response. Her article is available here, and our response is here.

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VN 7/25 - Been Reading?

A few weeks ago The Valley News published a clever fable written by an imaginative wind power supporter that made some rather far-fetched comparisons. This article is our response. Read the fable first, then our article (you should enjoy them both), and let us know what you think.

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VN 7/18 - Angry?

This Valley News article probes the issues that underlie the anger being expressed in town and makes the observation that social divisions have been present for years and are just becoming visible. Click here to read the full article and then let us know what you think.



VN 7/11 - Outsiders?

Some folks in town think that anyone who questions or opposes the idea of installing an industrial wind power plant in Cohocton must be an "outsider." This week's Valley News article addresses the concern. Click here to read the article, and then let us know what you think.

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VN 7/4 - Neighbors?

In our second Valley News article we talk about how to relate to one another in a neighborly way in the midst of controversy. Click here to read the article, and then let us know what you think.



VN 6/27 - Problem?

This is the first in what we hope will be a weekly series of articles in The Valley News. What do you think? Click here to read our article.

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Response to Hal & Judy

Hal & Judy Graham wrote a very sincere letter published by "YES! Wind Power" in the June 13 edition of The Valley News describing their visit to the Tug Hill wind project. The next week we received an unsolicited email from another resident who had an entirely different experience when she visited the same project. My wife and I were concerned that Hal & Judy's views were prematurely one-sided, so we reached out to them as neighbors. A copy of their letter is available here, and our response is here. Just today we received another Tug Hill report that confirms our concerns. Have you had any similar experiences that you'd like to share?



Response to Wayne Hunt

Wayne Hunt, one of the members of our Town Board, wrote a thoughtful open letter to the general public in last week's Valley News, with the support of the new "YES! Wind Power" group in town. His enthusiasm for the project seems to be boundless, so I reached out to him with this letter in the hopes of initiating some balanced dialogue about the subject.

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Community Meeting 6/8

Another community meeting has been scheduled by Cohocton Wind Watch for this coming Thursday evening, 6/8, at the Elementary School auditorium in Cohocton. The first meeting on 5/18 was packed with over 200 in attendance and lively, informative presentations, comments, and discussion. We have another shipment of yard signs ready for this week's event, since our first shipment or 100 has already been distributed.

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Response to UPC's DEIS

After UPC Wind made its 800+ page Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) available to the general public in late April, we were told that the Cohocton Planning Board would be receiving comments from the community up until their meeting on June 8. We all scrambled to digest the DEIS so that we could respond intelligently before the deadline. My response to Sandor Fox, Chairman of the Planning Board, is available here. Hopefully, there will be more public dialogue and time for further reasoned reflection before a decision of this magnitude is made. What do you think?



Planning Board Meeting 5/25

News Release:
Cohocton Town Meeting – May 25, 2006, 7-9 pm at the Wayland-Cohocton Elementary School, 30 Park Ave., Cohocton, NY. This will be a public hearing with the Cohocton Planning Board. The Board has announced that the deadline for receiving public input on the developer's DEIS will be on June 8. Please come and express your opinions about both the project and the process.

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