WAWAYANDA – “An overflow crowd of about 400 packed Town Hall on Wednesday night as the town Planning Board took comments on site plan revisions for the proposed $900 million gas-fired power-generating plant Competitive Power Ventures wants to build on a 122-acre parcel off Route 6.
About 30 people spoke during the contentious 90-minute hearing. The crowd was about evenly divided between union members, who have supported the plant for the 500 construction jobs its backers have said it would create, and environmentalists and local residents, who voiced fears about toxic gases, cancer, asthma and plummeting property values.
“Twenty years from now, this plant will be obsolete,” said Gregory Winner, a Wawayanda resident. “This is a mistake, and we will have sold the soul of this town.”
“I love you guys,” said town resident Madeline Shaw, indicating the union members. “I want you to work. But somebody tell me, who is benefiting from this?”
Local labor leaders, including Todd Diorio, president of the Hudson Valley Building and Construction Trades Council, reminded opponents that the proposed plant has passed all its reviews.
Responding to complaints from environmentalists who said that out-of-area union workers were packing the hearing, Sam Fratto, business manager of IBEW Local 363, pointed out union members in the audience who live in the town. “If you use electricity, you need this plant,” Fratto said.
Maureen Halahan, president and CEO of the Orange County Partnership, spoke in favor of the plant, saying it would create much-needed jobs and millions in taxes.
Steve Remillard, CPV’s vice president, development, opened the hearing by outlining the proposed site plan revisions, including altering the entrance on Route 6, reducing the overall footprint by about 18 percent and minimizing the impact on a nearby wetland.
Remillard said CPV is prepared to go ahead with construction, even if the board turns down the requested changes. The Planning Board chairwoman, Barbara Parsons, said the vote on the revisions is expected April 22. The plant has passed all air-quality reviews, including studies done by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Remillard said construction is expected to start early in the fourth quarter of this year, and possibly earlier. Remillard said the plant is still waiting for its power purchase agreement with the New York Power Authority.
The planned 640-megawatt plant, which has been going through the approval process for the past six years, would be located on a parcel bounded by routes 6 and 17M and I-84.
The firm has agreed to pay the Town of Wawayanda $8.2 million over 22 years under a “host” agreement CPV negotiated with a local development corporation created by the town. Wawayanda will also receive $2.8 million in property taxes over the same period under an agreement between CPV and the Orange County Industrial Development Corp.”