Five residents of the Town of Sheldon have commenced a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court, Wyoming County, challenging their town’s Wind Energy law. The Declaratory Judgment action, brought by Mark Moore of Thomas Road, Nadja Laska of French Road, Michael Peresan of Bloecher Road, and Cynthia and Kenneth Blair of Rt. 20A, asks the court to nullify Sheldon’s Wind Energy Law as inconsistent with the town’s Comprehensive Plan. The lawsuit also claims that the Sheldon Town Board exceeded its lawful authority by granting itself, rather than the Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, the "sole and absolute discretion" to grant variances relating to set-back requirements, noise levels, and the total number of wind towers allowed.
A new Comprehensive Plan was adopted by the Sheldon Town Board in July 2001 as a guideline to manage the town’s growth and future development. A major goal of the updated plan was the maintenance and enhancement of the town’s rural lifestyle, appearance and rural character, including its scenic landscape and hamlets. Detailed recommendations for preserving and protecting the town’s scenic vistas were identified. Drafts of the town’s Wind Energy Law considered by the Sheldon Town Board in 2002 included specific measures to protect the community’s scenic resources: wind towers were to be set back from the tops of visually prominent ridgelines and hilltops, such as Buffalo Hill; no wind turbine was to be located within 1,000 feet of Route 20A; projects were to be designed and placed to minimize adverse visual impacts to neighboring residential areas and hamlets; no wind turbine could be approved unless the Town Board made a specific finding that the project would not significantly impair a scenic vista or scenic corridor, with particular attention to the Rt. 20A corridor. All of these protective measures, intended to ensure consistency with the town’s Comprehensive Plan, were eliminated from the final version of the Wind Energy Law adopted by the Sheldon Town Board in March 2003.
Plaintiffs’ lawsuit, entitled Mark Moore et al. vs. Town Board of the Town of Sheldon et al.(Index No. 36539), names as defendants the Sheldon Town Board and Town of Sheldon property owners and wind farm developers who have obtained permission to install meteorological test towers in Sheldon to measure wind and related conditions: Hans Boxler, Carl Dominesey, Paul T. Martin and Brenda Martin, Matthew Mest, Nick Perry, Ecogen, LLC, Invenergy Wind LLC, and New York Windpower, LLC.
Please direct any inquiries or requests for copies of court papers to plaintiffs’ attorney, Arthur J. Giacalone, at (716) 687-1902. Thank you.