Edward D. Cerra of Dillenbeck Road was kind enough to provide the following summary of the May 22 public hearing in Prattsburgh concerning condemnation proceedings against the remaining property owners who have resisted signing easements for Windfarm Prattsburgh.
Owing to the large attendance, the meeting was held at the town fire hall, which was full to near capacity.
After a recap by First Wind [UPC] on the proposed location and properties involved, residents and owners were allowed three minutes each to voice their opinions.
There is no doubt that the eminent domain issue has fueled a larger controversy than the wind turbine project itself. There were a handful of supporters of the turbines, one of which sold a parcel of land to First Wind for double its appraised value. Other supporters live in the town proper and are not directly affected by the construction or the site of the turbines, and they do not pay the largest share of the property tax base.
The majority of those in attendance were, by far, opposed to the eminent domain issue, evidenced by both by their comments and the outbursts and applause of the crowd. Resident after resident lambasted the board for their willingness to accept First Wind’s request, as speaker after speaker reminded the board that they work for the residents and property owners, not for First Wind. Many land owners, who are not residents and whose land is directly affected by the eminent domain issue, spoke out about the irresponsibility of the board. All were notified by certified mail by UPC regarding the eminent domain meeting on April 22nd, but these letters arrived one day before the meeting – too late to travel and attend.
Many residents accused the board of profiting from the project and not doing enough research to acquire the knowledge of a project of this magnitude. Some even compared it to Rochester’s Fast Ferry project, which is still being paid by the taxpayers of NY. The only board members who had the sense enough to vote No (Mr. Kula and Mr. Shick) until more facts could be brought to the table were outvoted by Supervisor McConnell and board members Stacey Bottoni and Sharon Quigley at last month’s meeting. Residents were not allowed to speak at that meeting.
The Board has to publish its “findings and determinations” within 90 days of the hearing. The determination and findings must set forth:
1. The public use to be served
2. The reason for the location
3. The general effect
4. Other relevant factors
If, as expected, the Board “finds” to condemn the properties, the “condemnees” have 30 days from the “notice of publication” to appeal. People from all across the state have been sending financial and emotional support to help those whose land is threatened. All donations should be sent to Advocates for Prattsburgh Box 221, Prattsburgh NY 14873.