ARKWRIGHT – Snow swirling across Arkwright roads didn’t keep a roomful of people from traveling to the hilltop town hall to attend the town board meeting Monday.
As has been the case in past meetings, the wind turbine issue was again discussed during the regular session.
But, the annual organizational meeting, which preceded the regular one, was not without controversy.
In his series of appointments, Supervisor Fred Norton asked the town board to approve naming Douglas Aldrich of Tarbox Road to the Arkwright Planning Board.
He replaces Sue Miller, who has served on the planning board for more than 10 years and has chaired the board for several years.
“I think the planning board would benefit from Doug’s input,” Norton said.
Councilman Jeff Dietrich disagreed. “I think Sue has been doing a great job and should continue serving on the planning board,” he said.
The town board, however, voted 3-2 to approve Aldrich’s appointment with Councilman Roger Prince casting the second no vote.
Planning board member Douglas Fairbanks was named to take over the chairman’s responsibilities.
David Larson and Susan Dilks were named to the board of assessment review and Alex Gizowski was appointed to the town’s ethics committee.
Fred Bretl was reappointed to the zoning board of appeals and will continue to serve as its chairman.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Dietrich said Miller was knowledgeable, experienced and provided very good leadership for the Arkwright Planning Board.
“She deserved better treatment than she got tonight,” he said.
Planning board member Kathy Jackson agreed. “Sue put hours and hours into fulfilling the chairman’s responsibilities; on more than one occasion, she hand-delivered materials to planning board and town board members,” she said.
During the regular board meeting, the windmill issue was again the topic of discussion.
In a letter addressed to the board, Brian McMahon and his wife, Leanna, questioned the decision to again change the setbacks included in the proposed draft on the town’s wind turbine local law.
“We do not believe this action reflects a spirit of openness, community and cooperation. We are not opposed to wind towers in Arkwright … and we continue to hope this process can be executed in a way that does not create lasting enmity between neighbors,” he said.
He went on to say he and his wife feel the town board should return to the setbacks and decibel levels agreed to at the Dec. 11 public hearing.
“Precedents are being set and they should be carefully crafted,” he said.
Bob Holland said the proposed setbacks could affect the town’s economic welfare, but more importantly, he urged the board not to ignore the medical literature regarding the impact of low level noises.
“The board has an obligation to take this seriously and I am shocked at the way the board has conducted itself,” he said.
Cathy Jackson said changing the setbacks only empowers the wind turbine developers.
“I’m not against wind turbines, but give and take is needed to get Arkwright back on track,” she said.
Jim Potter, Claude McAvoy, Roger Cardot and Linda Fairbanks all spoke in favor of the wind turbine project in Arkwright.
“It is the right thing to do for Arkwright,” Potter said while McAvoy said he has spent time in a wind turbine community and found no problems among the residents.
Cardot said expanding the setbacks could possibly negatively affect small parcel property owners while Fairbanks said the family’s farm operation is one of the few in Arkwright that is still operating.
“I’ve talked with a number of residents and the majority of them are in favor of the turbines,” she said.
By JOAN JOSEPHSON OBSERVER Staff Writer