Pomfret officials are extending the town’s discussions of wind energy.
During the Pomfret Town Board’s year-end meeting, the board passed a resolution extending the wind energy conversion system moratorium for another six months. During the six-month moratorium, the Pomfret Town Planning Board will continue to work on a drafted wind energy law with the help of attorney Daniel Spitzer.
The move to extend the moratorium and seek legal assistance from Spitzer was one that James Joy, town Planning Board chairman, proposed to the Town Board during a Dec. 13 meeting. At the time, Joy urged the board to consider the aid from Spitzer to help with a situation that he feels is becoming more complex as time goes on.
“˜”˜The majority of plans that we work on can be referred back to the state level for recommendations. But when it comes to wind energy there is none; there are no recommendations. They say it’s hometown rule, do what you want. So you’re crafting something as you’re going and it’s a very complex issue,” Joy said. “˜”˜We’re creating something the state doesn’t even want to tackle so it’s a pretty heavy load for a group of volunteers to be taking in.”
Backing Joy on the decision to extend the moratorium and seek legal assistance were board members Rod Pennica and Patricia Christina, both of whom said the decision is the right move despite the added time and money involved.
“˜”˜When you consider the magnitude of the responsibility and when you consider the long-term effects, we’d better do it right,” Christina said. “˜”˜Novices that we are despite the extensive research that we have done, there is still the possibility that we might miss something.”
Pennica agreed, adding that although the process for creating an absolute law on wind energy systems has taken a long time, it is one that he feels should not be rushed.
“˜”˜Nothing has been more frustrating for me than the pace at which governments move and decisions get made. It drives me nuts. I am one who usually pushes for a quicker route. This, I am convinced we need to really just step back a little bit here. I know it has been dragging on longer than some of us would like to see,” Pennica said. “˜”˜Every meeting that I attend that involves wind energy legislation it’s like the plot thickens with every single thing that you attend, every single thing that you hear the latest on. It becomes overwhelming to the point where I agree that hiring counsel specifically for that is a good idea to keep us on the right track and to craft the kind of legislation that will serve us for a very, very long time.”
The resolution passed to contract Spitzer for consultation with the Planning Board was not to exceed $2,500, a decision that left Don Steger, town supervisor, skeptical.
“˜”˜None of this was budgeted,” Steger said. “˜”˜I have a concern as to where we come up with the $1,200 to $2,500 to pay for this contractual service.”
It was not discussed the way in which funds will be transferred to pay for the service, but if in the future a wind energy company does decide to build in Pomfret, the attorney fees are something that can be contracted for reimbursement from the wind company, according to a letter from Spitzer.
“˜”˜We have found that the wind energy companies are willing to enter into a more expansive agreement to ensure that full reimbursement for all communities’ cost in consideration for applications are covered,” Christina said. “˜”˜Negotiation of such an agreement would be one of the tasks that we would propose to undertake for you, along with negotiating post community agreements, payment in lieu of taxes or other agreements as you see fit.”
Joy said the Planning Board will now look to set a time and date to speak with Spitzer in hopes of finalizing a wind energy law.
“˜”˜We are going to wait for him at this point because we had our version finalized. We were really, really close to being done. Then I was able to attend a couple of meetings where he was at and realized that the more you get into this the more stuff you keep finding,” Joy said. “˜”˜We’ll have enough time and a real professional who knows this business to help us get this done. Six months will be adequate.”
By Michael Rukavina
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