Taxation with representation, is a fundamental privilege of our democracy...yet there are always loopholes. With respect to windfarm development the loophole is zoning. Many rural areas don't have zoning and therefore town officials maintain that they cannot provide their citizens with safeguards. However, when their citizens ask for zoning to protect them against topless bars, windfarm development and the like, some town officials refuse to take action.
In the case of Prattsburgh, NY, at the start of these projects relatives of two of the five town board members had signed with the developers, and would directly financially benefit from leasing their land for windfarms. The going rate is $3,000 per turbine per year and potentially additional monies for allowing distribution lines to cross the property. While the amount which "politically connected" landowners will receive per tower is not yet known, certain other landowners in key locations have been offered $4500 to $9000 per turbine per year.
Town Board members and town officials whose families will financially benefit from the siting of windmills on their farmland, cannot fairly represent the perspective of non-participating landowners whose right to enjoy their land will be severely impaired by their actions. These leasing landowners, including the relatives of one town official and a recently voted-out-of-office Town Board member, would then be allowed to derive the maximum financial return, while potentially severely negatively impacting their neighboring landowners.
It is important to be aware that professional, industry, and state organizations are providing guidelines to wind developers as to how to minimize any "problems" with concerned citizen's in local communities. See the Communication Toolbox at the following site provided by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). With such guidance being provided to local and county governments - it is increasingly imperative that the residents of communities insist that their voices be heard.