Held at Meeder's Restaurant in Ripley, a number of community members expressed their concerns, opinions and beliefs to Town of Ripley board members.
First to speak was Arthur Giacalone, an attorney from East Aurora who was representing a group of concerned citizens. Giacalone said there was inadequate time to review the project's draft environmental impact statement, and he urged residents to approach the DEIS with "healthy skepticism" as it contained what he called slanted information.
"If you take the time to closely examine it, there is example after example of where this is happening," Giacalone said.
This slanted information, according to information provided by Giacalone, included misinformation regarding shadow flicker caused by the turbines, the sound produced, the complaint resolution process and potential health impacts.
Giacalone said he found numerous studies which argued opposite points than those found in the project's DEIS.
Meanwhile, Westfield resident Paul Coran expressed his concerns with possible groundwater contamination caused by the amount of concrete for the project and the washing off of the trucks which delivered the cement.
"That's got to go somewhere," Coran said, "maybe in someone's well."
Coran also said he was concerned with the impact a wind farm would have on birds, noise and area property values, which, he said, could go down if such a project is constructed.
"What types of impacts are we able to handle," he asked.
Another concerned resident, Keith Fowler, said such a wind project, if it was around prior to his moving to the area, would have been a red flag.
"We moved here a year ago, and if we knew this was going to be here, we would not have moved here," he said. "The only thing I can hope for is that the Ripley and Westfield town boards vote this down."
Fowler said he has worked in the energy business and found wind turbines to be unreliable and to have a negative impact on property taxes.
"It's going to be a continuing downward spiral," he said.
Toby Hanks, a Ripley resident, said he had issues with the size the turbines and the location of the project.
"We're going to be looking at these things for the rest of our lives," he said. "I don't think there is anything in this project for the residents of these towns. There's just nothing there for us. I just don't see it."
However, there were members of the audience who were supportive of the proposed wind project.
"Think about the impact on our environment if we do nothing," said Larry Borowski. "We need to build these windmills today. I see them as fingers of hope and life for our future."
Phil Knight, a Ripley resident, said such a project would help future generations of people.
"We need to do something now," he said. "Somebody has to do something for our kids and our grandkids and their grandkids. I think our future needs to look at this."
Ripley resident Bob Bentley, who was not speaking for the Ripley Central School Board of Education of which he presides, said he personally believed a wind project would bring money and jobs to the area.
"This isn't a perfect situation," he said. "Somewhere, we have to start making some changes in this area. Sooner or later we need to step forward into the future."
Stephen Howes, who said windmills are proposed to be installed near his property, said the Ripley Town Board would regret the decision to allow the project to be constructed.
"These windmills are ugly. They're a machine. They're not pretty," he said. "You're going to hate these things. You're going to hate these things with a passion."
Howes said the project's developers are misleading the public.
"They're all telling you things you want to hear and not the real deal," he said.
However, Dan Scriven of Ripley said the project was needed in the area because taxes could decrease, jobs could be created and businesses may be enticed to move to the region.
"Unless somebody does something to lower the taxes, people are going to keep exiting the state," Scriven said.
According to information provided by representatives of Pattern Energy, the proposed project would consists of 54 to 79 turbines spread out evenly in both the Towns of Ripley and Westfield. The power generated, the information said, would be enough to power 43,000 homes each year. The company is currently looking at two different types of turbines which would be more than 300 feet tall from their base to the tips of their blades.
Copies of the Environmental Impact Statement can be found at various locations, including Eason Hall and the Patterson Library in Westfield.
Residents may mail or e-mail their comments to either the Town of Westfield or the Town of Ripley. Written comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Monday, May 17. For more information, individuals are asked to contact either the Town of Westfield at 326-3211, the Town of Ripley at 736-6881 or by visiting www.ripleywestfieldwind.ene.com.
"We appreciate all of your comments," said Town of Ripley Supervisor Pete Ryan. "Everything said here will be in the DEIS."