Reaffirming their complaints, the West Beekmantown Neighborhood Association has filed suit against nearly everyone involved in the wind-power issue here.
The non-profit group, which has more than 100 members, filed the Article 78 petition seeking a court hearing.
The lawsuit names the Beekmantown Zoning Board of Appeals, Beekmantown Town Council, Beekmantown Codes Enforcement Officer Allan Corron, Clinton County Planning Board and Windhorse Power LLC.
Each was included, according to the document, to give the court full jurisdiction over all involved in the decision.
On Jan. 31, the Beekmantown Zoning Board unanimously OK’d the project, an action needed to overturn the Clinton County Planning Board’s vote not to approve the project.
The decision allows the wind-power-harvesting company to set up to 13 turbines within the bounds of a conditional-use permit. The 10-month construction process will set up 80-meter-tall turbines across land owned or leased to Windhorse Power.
The permit seeks to govern the project under strict considerations that the plan proposed to the Zoning Board remain unchanged throughout the construction process and during production.
The association wasn’t pleased with the decision.
“We want to see this project not allowed,” Neighborhood Association Co-President Ted Klaudt said.
“We have maintained all along that this is an industrial project and it has no role in a residentially zoned area.”
The Zoning Board allowed the project under the “essential services” provision and agreed with Saratoga Associates’ recommendation that it posed little to no threat of detriment to the area.
“We disagree with their considerations,” Klaudt said. “If this project is allowed the way it has been approved, it opens up any place in Beekmantown. That’s not just Rand Hill.”
The association asserted throughout the document that the Zoning Board acted illegally by “failing to comply with the requirements” of the state environmental quality review and by considering Windhorse as an essential service based on Corron’s recommendation.
The lawsuit also takes issue with the use of an alternate Zoning Board member.
The document quotes the law: “The chair of the ZBA may designate an alternate to substitute for a member when such a member is unable to participate because of a conflict of interest on an application or matter before the board.”
The group contends that during meetings, alternate Zoning Board member Jerome Davis was allowed as a sixth member of the board and made and challenged determinations and that no members were removed for a conflict of interest.
All these matters and other information from the defendants will be given to the court in a May 11 hearing.
“We will address the issues before the court,” said Windhorse partner John Warshow, adding, “There was an almost identical appeal against the Noble project, and that project was allowed recently.”
The recent court decision rejected a similar lawsuit over the Noble Environmental wind project in the towns of Altona, Clinton and Ellenburg.
“We were confident after the (zoning) board meeting,” Warshow said. “After reading the Noble appeal, we are more confident.”
Klaudt is also expecting to win.
“We’re pretty confident,” he said, adding that in regard to their attorney, James Brooks, “He’s a very experienced attorney and has been dealing with land-use issues for a number of years.”
The final decision will be made in court.
“It’s out of our hands now,” Klaudt said.
By Lucas Blaise
22 March 2007
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