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Meeting's public forum still focused on wind towers  

HAMLIN – The Wind Tower Committee (WTC) has been disbanded, the reports and findings have been turned over to an attorney, but the topic of conversation at the recent Hamlin Town Board meeting continues to be wind turbine focused.

Chair of the former WTC, Linda DeRue, asked Supervisor Dennis Roach for a correction to the August 13 meeting minutes because some of the statements she made at that meeting were not reflected, she said. The committee was disbanded at a meeting in August. “There was no deceit with my actions, and you (Roach) remain inflexible to the committee’s actions. If anyone has cornered the market on deceit, you hold it,” she said during the public forum. “You spoke about honesty and open government but that has been lost. We, on the committee, stood for the people of Hamlin, the Town of Hamlin – in that order. You have tried to remove the voice of the people and someone must take up that voice.”

DeRue and fellow WTC member Jerry Borkholder are both seeking election to the town board – DeRue to a council seat, Borkholder will be challenging Roach for the supervisor seat.

Councilmember Paul Rath questioned why, when asked at a previous meeting who on the WTC was running for office, only Borkholder said “yes.” “Why didn’t you answer at that time?” Rath asked DeRue.

“The petition hadn’t been checked and it wasn’t official at that time,” she said.

On the topic of wind turbines, Dave Lucas spoke to refute some of the items that were raised by Art McFarlane. “Mr. McFarlane attempted to define (the term) defensible but he confused the ‘average’ setbacks with defensible,” Lucas said. “He overlooked the towns of Malone and Cherry Valley that both have setbacks of 2,640 feet and took the average setback of all communities that have wind turbines (the average was about a 900 foot setback). The Wind Tower Committee came up with the defensible setbacks based on other communities and on setbacks in place in European countries – they have a mile setback.”

Lucas asked board members what they deemed “defensible” and all board members deferred the question to the attorney.

Kathy Habgood said that the Town of Hamlin is home to a “concentrated migratory path” for birds, referring to McFarlane’s assertions that Hamlin was not a dedicated “flyway” for birds. “Hamlin Beach State Park has been named an ‘important area’ for birds and because of that, criteria needs to be looked at that will not place wind towers in that zone. The paths for hawks and eagles extends up to 10 miles inland – Hamlin is a known migratory pathway for birds.”

Kim Spellan said she had “come into possession of disturbing information” and asked all the town board members if they would be receiving “personal incentives” to ensure the wind towers were placed within the town.”

“I can answer that very loudly, absolutely not,” Roach said.

Councilman George Todd said, “You’re making a strong accusation, what is the source of your information?”

Spellan said her attorney had advised her not to disclose the information. The other board members also replied that they were not receiving incentives to push wind tower placement in the town.

McFarlane asked board members what information and direction Dan Spitzer had been given to help formulate the rules and regulations the board would be looking at when coming up with recommendations for development. Spitzer is the attorney retained to write codes and regulations for placement of wind towers.

“He was provided the Wind Tower Committee’s recommendations and he has access to any information that is on the website, the minority report, the consensus report, a copy of the town codes and zoning information,” Roach said.

Resident Renee Cliff wanted to know what deadline Spitzer was given.

“We want to have the information in place before Article X comes down the pike,” Roach said. “We’d like to have something in our hands by October so we can plan public hearings in November and make a decision by December.”

Pat Dorney asked again what the town was doing to inform residents of what was going on with the wind towers. “I just started receiving information about this issue. Everyone in this town should know what’s going on,” she said. “I am asking you to reinstate the moratorium and reinstate the Wind Tower Committee. I am begging you to sponsor meetings about this topic.”

Roach said the moratorium remains in effect until January 17 and that the WTC has been asked to remain available as a workshop and to communicate with the town board.

“How can we better inform the residents?” Rath asked. “You can’t pick up the paper without reading about what the town is doing about the towers, there are notices in the paper, there have been open forums, this has been going on for about nine months. Where does personal responsibility on the part of the residents come into play?”

Rath said the WTC had been charged with informing the community of the status of the wind tower talks. “Don’t even go there …” DeRue said when Rath mentioned the committee’s responsibility.

“When the WTC first started, we had asked the town board to send a letter to the residents – to every household – a very generic letter to let them know what was going on. It took 87 days for the town to do anything and when it did, it was a small notice on the 15th page of a 16 page newsletter. If you wanted people in Hamlin to know what was going on, it should have been on the front page of the newsletter.”

Hire a public relations person, was Dorney’s suggestion.

“There has been information on the front page of the Hamlin-Clarkson Herald several times,” Lucas said.

“What would it take to get you here, to a meeting?” Rath asked the audience. “If it’s a letter, who should draft it? There is bias against the town board so if we draft it …”

Tricia Nesbitt spoke about McFarlane’s comments about NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) in the town. “I’d like to have another definition for NIMBY – Next It May Be You,” she said. “I’d like to know what steps the town will take toward the NIMBY of my definition? How will you protect them?”

The public forum ended with Roach saying there was a meeting being put together with town officials and members of the Hamlin Preservation Group with a tentative date of September 27.

Westside News Inc.

17 September 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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