Motions to dismiss were denied in three related cases in Cohocton.
BATH – Steuben County Supreme Court Justice Marianne Furfure has ruled that petitioners, including the citizens group Cohocton Wind Watch, have standing to proceed with three Article 78 lawsuits. The suits address the improper issuance of special-use permits in the construction of wind farms in Cohocton.
One of the lawsuits relates to turbines being built on the Dutch Hill project site. The second addresses turbines being built on the Cohocton Wind project site on Pine, Lent and Brown Hills. The third concerns three turbines slated to be built close to the site of a former landfill.
“The lawsuits do not actually ask for the projects to be halted – the filing is for judicial review of whether the Cohocton Planning Board issued the special-use permits correctly and legally,” said James Hall, a petitioner in one of the lawsuits and a member of Cohocton Wind Watch.
Attorney David P. Miller, who is representing Cohocton Wind Watch, said he planned to meet with his clients this week to consider filing a stop-work order against the projects. Two turbines have already been completed on Dutch Hill; 13 more are partially completed.
In total, plans call for 50 wind turbines on about 7,360 acres of land leased from private landowners.
The Steuben County Industrial Development Agency will hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 18, at the court building, 19 Main St. in the hamlet of Atlanta, to discuss the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) plan for three of the turbines. Officials initially believed those turbines fell within the Wayland-Cohocton school district, when in fact they fall within the Naples school district. Members of Cohocton Wind Watch and the Naples Valley-Bristol Hills Association (NVBHA), another citizen group, have urged the Naples Board of Education to negotiate with UPC Wind – the company building the turbines – to secure more compensation for the district than would be provided under the PILOT plan. “We believe you can make a better offer,” said Elisabeth Johnsen Cowley on behalf of the NVBHA at a recent Naples school board meeting.
With the PILOT payment, Naples schools would “not be receiving the full tax revenue” from the turbines, which the NVBHA labeled as “industrial project(s) that provide no local benefits” in a letter provided to the school board.
By HILARY SMITH
Messenger Post Staff
JANUARY 15, 2008
Canandaigua Daily Messenger
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