Roughly 50 people attended Monday’s public hearing on a proposed Town of Enfield law that would regulate 1,250-foot setbacks for industrial wind turbines and would likely kill developer John Rancich’s proposed wind farm.
The law was drafted by members of the town and planning boards after the planning board had been working on the draft for months. The most recent planning board meeting on the law got unruly and no recommendation was made to the town board.
“It became quite impossible to do anything,” said James McConkey, co-chair of the planning board.
The nature of the last planning board meeting prompted the Enfield Town Board to call in the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office. Two deputy sheriffs were at Monday’s meeting.
Enfield residents’ opinions on the proposed law varied. Bruce Varner is satisfied with the proposal, but Keith Smith repeatedly asked that the town board slow the decision-making process or put the proposal to a public vote.
Town board member Byron Smith said he would not have a problem putting the law to public referendum, though there was some dispute as to whether the board could do so legally.
Virginia Bryant, co-chair of the town planning board, said she is “alarmed and dismayed that (the law) is being rushed through,” a common concern at the meeting.
Guy Krogh, a municipal attorney for the towns of Lansing and Caroline, spoke on the complications the proposed law may contain, saying it will run into constitutional issues regarding property rights. He also said if the public hearing was not called by town supervisor Jean Owens, the meeting would not stand as a public hearing, which is a step required by municipal law if a local law is to be voted on by the board.
Owens was not present for the meeting and did not return a phone call Monday.
Town board member Sandy Small said the meeting was called by two town board members but would not say which members.
Resident Larry Boisvert asked the town board whether it would vote on the law before the new town board takes over. He continued to advocate for wind farms and proclaimed, “This town board does not represent this town, at all!”
Boisvert also asked the town board to put the law to a referendum. Smith reiterated the point on the referendum saying he thought this decision was a “critical vote for the future of the Town of Enfield.”
He added that if the law would not be put to referendum any discussion of the law should be postponed until next year, when the “new town board can take their seats.”
By Tim Ashmore
18 December 2007
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