GAINES – Public dissent over the planning board continued at the Town Board meeting Tuesday with little resolution. The hot topic of wind energy wasn’t far behind.
Gaines resident Marilyn Miller read from the town’s Code of Ethics as it pertains to standards of conduct, requesting that all town employees and elected or appointed officials make it known if they have signed lease agreements with Airtricity, the wind development company proposing to build 400-foot towers in the area.
Town Attorney Doug Heath said they would be required only to state that they have a conflict of interest, forcing them to recuse, or disqualify, themselves from all related discussions or decisions related to the issue.
“I would be glad to review any (specific) concerns,” Heath said. “We take it very, very seriously. … They certainly have an obligation to disclose it.”
Councilmen James Kirby and David Kast recused themselves from all wind energy deliberations over 18 months ago. They were very forthcoming that it was because they have signed leases, Kast said.
“I think it should be out in the open,” said Gaines resident Megan McElligott. “I think it would calm things down.”
Newly appointed planning board vice-chairman Gary Davy stood up and stated that he has a conflict of interest and has refrained from all associated board conversations since.
Town Supervisor Richard DeCarlo, Sr. resolved the issue by stating he would send out an e-mail reminding everyone of the Code of Ethics.
Additional time during the two and a half hour meeting was spent discussing the nature of Phil McKenna’s appointment on the planning board. A resolution motioned by Councilman Lorraine Oakley was approved at last Thursday’s special meeting adopting the 2008 appointments and reorganization of members of both the zoning and planning board, who have completed their mandatory training for 2007 and have a certificate on file.
Because the seven-hour online training course McKenna took was not on an approved Orleans County list, McKenna’s appointment was in question. Heath said McKenna’s seven-year term does not terminate until Dec. 31, 2008, therefore he remains a member regardless. Davy was the only planning board member whose term had expired.
McKenna can only be removed from the planning board if the town board decides to take action, Heath said. The town board did not take any action.
In other news:
n Marilyn Miller asked for resident signatures for a petition that will be brought to state assembly and senate representatives opposing Article X, a piece of legislation that would take home rule control out of the hands of local municipalities and into the hands of the state. The legislation could affect the Town of Gaines’ power to allow or not allow the construction of commercial wind towers.
n Deputy Clerk Marita Dumrese was appointed as the new Gaines Court Clerk. Approximately $5,000 was allotted in the budget for this purpose, said Councilman David Kast.
n Special guest speaker Attorney Daniel Spitzer with Hodgson Russ Law Firm will speak at the Town Hall, 14087 Ridge Rd., at 7:30 p.m. Thursday regarding wind energy. Spitzer has been hired by several Orleans County municipalities, including the Town of Albion, to facilitate the writing and adoption of wind tower regulations. Additional informational wind energy meetings will take place at the Town Hall Feb. 21 and 28.
“We’re trying to move forward in some sort of logical order,” DeCarlo said. “The focus should be on regulations. Whether or not you’re for or against, we have to write regulations.”
By Nicole Coleman
13 February 2008
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