DANC to hold meetings in Lowville, Watertown about Fort Drum development, wind turbines

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Meetings will be held tonight and Wednesday night to allow the public to discuss future growth at Fort Drum and potential compatibility issues the post may have with the surrounding community, a debate that has included wind turbine growth.

The Development Authority of the North Country’s Fort Drum Joint Land Use Study covers 25 areas of compatibility, from housing availability, biological resources, energy development and noise. When finished, the study is also expected to become a key part of the debate over wind turbine development in areas near the post.

In a news release, the authority said the main objective of its study is to “reduce current and potential compatibility issues between Fort Drum and surrounding communities” while protecting development, economic activity, public safety and military operations.

The first of two meetings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. today at the cafeteria of Lowville Academy Elementary, 7668 North State St., Lowville. A second hearing will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the large conference room of Watertown High School, 1335 Washington St., Watertown.

DANC said that both meetings will have the same information available.

The meeting will start with a presentation about the study process, documents and next steps. Participants will then be able to take part in an interactive exercise where they will identify how important certain compatibility issues are to them.

They will also be able to leave comment cards with input on strategies to address compatibility issues.

The turbine debate has raged in recent months after post officials outlined their concerns on how turbines impact air navigation and weather monitoring.

The Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization and lawmakers, including Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, have since outlined their concerns with a set of wind projects in development.

Ross Holbrook, a founding member of River Residents Against Turbines, or River RATS, said he is encouraging people to attend the meetings and submit comments.

“Just as the Development Authority of the North Country is asking for public participation on this issue, we think it’s important that local residents that are concerned about wind turbines near Fort Drum are able to make their feelings known and contribute to the land use study,” Mr. Holbrook said.

For more information about the study, visit http://wdt.me/danc-study.

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