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Town of Castile passes law banning industrial wind turbines

Residents filled the Town of Castile Fire Hall Thursday evening, July 26, awaiting the Town Board’s decision regarding Wind Energy Conversion Systems (WECS). At the last regularly scheduled town board meeting, the Castile Planning Board submitted a very comprehensive 19-page law, which in effect, would prohibit industrial-sized wind turbines, while allowing personal home and farm models to 125′ in height. The Town Board held a special meeting on July 19 to extend the moratorium for another 6 months until the Public Hearing could be held, a decision reached, and the law put on the books.

The meeting opened, as always, with the Pledge of Allegiance. A dozen people had signed up to speak in favor of the proposed law, with Supervisor Joe Gozelski announcing he had also received a couple of letters in support of the law.

Ruth Lavin, President of the Silver Lake Association, opened the comment period of the meeting by commending the Town Board for its’ openness to debate, and willingness to listen to all citizens’ concerns. She also commended the due diligence and dedication of the Planning Board in their thorough research which led up to the 19-page law.

Bob Payne, Mick Griffin, and Roy Schneggenburg, all lifetime Silver Lake residents for some 70+ years each, spoke of the beauty, peace and quiet that the area has always offered its’ residents, and asked the Town Board to support the law as proposed.

Town of Castile resident, Gerald Sahrle II, said that it was up to the board to protect the grandeur of the Letchworth State Park area, and the welfare of all the children by passing the law. “My children would have had 410′ tall turbines just 800′ from their bedroom windows if these corporate bullies had gotten their way,” he said.

Dave Conaway, another Town of Castile resident, said, “I’ve attended meetings in many towns across Western New York regarding the wind issue. I have witnessed other boards tell their citizens to ‘sit down and shut up’, or even ask them not to come to a meeting. Half of these other places don’t even say The Pledge before their meetings. I’m glad to live where democracy still rules – in Castile!”

Kathy Schaefer, a Silver Lake resident, encouraged the Board to pass the law and went on to say, “Your professionalism and commitment to the people you represent is a testament to how town governments should be run! We want you to know the respect we have gained for the Town of Castile as a result of your conscientious efforts.”

Robert Firestine, en economist who lives in the area, Mary Kay Barton, resident in the Town of Castile, and Pam Bliss, one of the founders of Citizens for Responsible Energy Development (CRED), all thanked the boards and encouraged them to pass the law. Each also addressed the looming threat of State intervention in Home Rule, if Article X is passed (legislation currently under consideration in New York State which would no longer allow decisions regarding placement of mammoth-footprinted wind installations to be made locally), which would strip our constitutional rights of the democratic process to rule ourselves in our hometowns. Each one encouraged all to remain wary of this looming threat and to stay involved by writing their State representatives.

Referring to her recent contacts and experience in the Democracy School, organized by attorneys from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (www.CELDF.org), Barton went on to say that Towns need to go even further to protect themselves from the encroaching threat of State and corporate aggressions which would over-ride local decision-making. She cited the fact that other communities who have put binding general laws on the books which do not allow huge corporations to declare “personhood” in pursuit of corporate gain in their towns, have been very effective at protecting their local governments’ and citizens’ Constitutional rights to rule themselves as they see fit.

After the comment period concluded, Supervisor Gozelski asked the board members if they had any comments. Councilman Steve Tarbell noted that he had kept a tally since the debate over the issue had began, which totaled 238 people that had contacted him who were against industrial wind turbines in the Town of Castile, and only 6 that had contacted him who were for industrial turbines in the Town of Castile. Councilman Tarbell said, “We have to listen to what the majority of our constituents are telling us.”

Councilman Stan Klein questioned the crowd, “Is there anyone here who has an opposing viewpoint to what has been stated this evening? You don’t have to say anything, just raise your hand.” No one answered or raised their hand.

Councilman Tarbell then made the motion to pass the law banning industrial turbines in the Town of Castile. Councilwoman Linda Little seconded the motion, and all present (Councilman Sam Monteleone was absent) voted unanimously to pass the law.

The vote was followed by a standing ovation from the crowd for the Town Board. Supervisor Gozelski then said, “It is really the Planning Board who we should be thanking for all their dedication and hard work on this law.” Gozelski then asked members of the Planning Board who were present to stand, and they were given a standing ovation by the crowd and the Town Board members. ~ mkb