October 10, 2006
New York

Wind power debate goes on in Arkwright

Salvos were exchanged yet again between Arkwright Supervisor Fred Norton and the residents who attended the town board meeting Monday.

The confrontation began when the discussion turned to the board’s attempt to enact a comprehensive local law that would establish control of commercial wind turbines in Arkwright.

Norton said the board was proceeding with attorney Daniel Spitzer, described as a specialist on wind turbine laws, to develop this local law.

“The draft submitted by the town’s planning board has been helpful in this regard,” the supervisor said.

He also said that once the board had the draft completed, hopefully by the end of October, public hearings would be scheduled.

One of these hearings would be held at Forestville High School and the other at the town hall.

“The reason for this is the turnout is expected to be considerable and we want to provide room for everyone. Having people hanging through the windows isn’t the way to conduct a meeting,” he said.

Norton then asked the board to schedule a workshop meeting with the planning board to review the draft of the wind turbine law, before these public hearings were held.

The workshop would be open to the public, but no public comment would be permitted, he said.

“I would prefer that the town board comes to an agreement on what the proposed law contains, before we hold the public hearing,” he said.

Councilman Jeff Dietrich said he wasn’t comfortable with the closed sessions the board has held with Spitzes.

“I won’t attend any more of these behind closed door sessions,” he said.

The board agreed to table Norton’s request for the workshop session and consider it again at the November meeting.

Norton said the discussion the board has held with Spitzes fall within attorney-client privilege and as such are not open to the public.

“We need to have sufficient control over commercial wind turbines and must get something in place in order to do this,”he said.

Elizabeth Booth questioned this method of proceeding with the law.

“It should only be passed when you have an informed town board,” she said, adding that a comprehensive plan would be in order first before the law was adopted.

Councilman Roger Prince said he believed the zoning law should be enacted as soon as possible. “Permits (for commercial wind turbines) don’t have to be issued until after a comprehensive plan is in place,” he said.

Wendy Woodbury Straight said the board was dealing with a major issue in an ad hoc manner.

“You need to step back and work intelligently to develop a law we can live with and enjoy,” she said.

Jill Casey took Norton to task for what she called the confrontational way he conducts the meetings.

“We are all here because we care about Arkwright yet the opinions expressed as summarily dismissed,” she said.

The drafting of the commercial wind turbine law should be done in a public forum, Casey claimed, with the residents provided with the opportunity to comment.

With that said, she presented a freedom of information request to town clerk Janice Rundell

Among the questions Casey wanted answers to were:

.The amount budgeted and/or authorized to pay Spitzes as wind energy counsel for Arkwright.

.Payments made to Spitzes in this capacity.

.Expenses to the town for town board meetings with Spitzes.

.Lists of all persons meeting with Spitzes and the dates of these meetings with the supervisor and the town board in attendance.

.Any and all documents, correspondence and reports to or from and-or pertaining to Horizon Wind Energy or any other wind energy company.

.Any and all amounts and types of contributions, gifts or gratuities made by Horizon Wind Energy to the Town of Arkwright and-or its elected public officials.

Casey accused Norton of forcing the residents to be confrontational because of his poor leadership.

“There is a better way to lead,” she said.

By Joan Josephson, Observer Staff Writer


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