The Centerville windmill project earned an important victory when a Cattaraugus County Supreme Court judge dismissed the lawsuit Wednesday against the town.
According to Town of Centerville Supervisor Frank Sardina, the Hon. Michael L. Nenno, of Olean, ruled in favor of the town, and called it “a good day for Centerville.”
“For us, this is a victory,” Sardina said.
Sardina said Centerville adopted a law Nov. 21, 2006, that allows the town to regulate the installation of windmills in Centerville. He added that despite about 90 landowners signing up for the project, there was a small group that opposed it, known as the Centerville’s Concerned Citizens.
“The bottom line is they don’t want windmills,” Sardina said. “The reasons they put down were so frivolous the judge dismissed it.”
Sardina said the concerned group claimed a sufficient environmental study had not been done prior to adopting the law. However, Sardina said the environmental study is done by the developer, Connecticut-based Noble Environmental Power LLC, along with the submission of their application for the windpark.
“All we needed was the town law,” Sardina said. “Without the town law, we had no way of controlling the project.”
The developer’s application submission, according to Sardina, will begin the process to have the study done by the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).
“They do field work and look at wet lands, they look at water drainage, they look at bird flight through the county,” Sardina said. “All of that is done after the application is submitted.”
Sardina said before the law had been adopted, the town could not regulate the project.
“The town was approached by a developer who said they did not want to put windmills in any town who did not want them,” Sardina said. “Unless the environmental studies are in compliance with our law, we can reject them.
“Anything that’s not in compliance, we’ll just ask them to mitigate it and we have to be satisfied with that mitigation,” Sardina added.
Calls to Gary Abraham, the lawyer who represented the Centerville’s Concerned Citizens, and Dennis Gaffin, president of the Centerville’s Concerned Citizens, were not returned at press time.
Sardina also said Noble is likely to use a program called Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), a state incentive that offers developers a tax break. Instead of paying taxes up front, the state removes those taxes for a period of time and the developer gives a portion of that money to the municipality where the project is being done.
The next step in the process is for Centerville to receive the application from Noble.
“That starts the SEQUR process,” Sardina said, who was served with papers for the lawsuit earlier this month.
By Paul A. Jannace
20 April 2007
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