So far, there are no win-win outcomes in the conflicts that have emerged in the Town of Arkwright.
Evidence of this was repeated at a recent Town Board meeting where dissent over the wind turbine and comprehensive planning issues arose again.
When Supervisor Fred Norton recommended the Town Board and Planning Board meet in a joint session to discuss a draft local law that would provide protection for the town, he indicated that this meeting would be open to the public but would not include public input.
This caused an uproar among the audience attending the meeting with a series of questions raised about why he wanted to limit this input.
Jill Casey said developing the draft law should be done in public with public input, not behind closed doors, as has been the practice to this point.
The Town Board has been conducting a series of executive meetings with Daniel Spitzer, an attorney who specializes in wind turbine law.
Norton said under rights accorded attorney-client privilege, these closed door sessions are permitted.
When Elizabeth Booth said this privilege could be waived, Norton said he would not waive this right.
None of the other board members indicated their feelings on the issue.
However, the board agreed to set the dates for the joint meeting between the Planning Board and Town Board and the two public hearings Norton wants to hold on the proposed law covering wind turbines in Arkwright.
These dates will be set at the November board meeting.
In order to accommodate the anticipated large turnout of individuals to these public hearings, Norton said one of them would be conducted at the Forestville High School.
And, because town business needs to be conducted in the town, the second hearing would be held at the town hall.
Norton said the Town Board needs to move forward with the local law, since several wind turbine companies have expressed a desire to build them in Arkwright.
“We need to have protection in place,” he said.
Booth agreed with this point. “According to information I’ve received, two proposed wind farms in Arkwright would produce 100 megawatts of power each and Horizon, which has a test tower in place, proposes producing 75 megawatts,” she said.
But, that’s as far as an agreement between the two extended.
Norton said once the law is enacted, it could be subject to review and change, if it is deemed necessary.
Booth and Casey said the town needs a comprehensive plan in place, before any new zoning law is enacted.
Councilman Jeff Dietrich agreed with this point and introduced a resolution to establish a comprehensive plan committee.
It calls for Arkwright to “wisely consider current and future land use priorities” and to “preserve the rural nature of the community as well as preserve recreational attractions.”
The resolution also calls for a community based plan, seeking input from citizens and property owners “regarding the future direction and priorities of the town.”
Dietrich recommended a 15-member committee spend up to 18 months to develop this comprehensive plan and that the town board allocate funds for this purpose.
When asked how much he thought it would cost, Dietrich said he didn’t know, but suggested the $3,000 the town saved in reduced liability insurance premiums be used for this purpose.
With Dietrich casting the only no vote, the proposed resolution was tabled until the December meeting.
By Joan Josephson, Observer Staff Writer
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