Gaines residents Marilynn Miller and Elise Draper are fighting back.
Advocates with the New York State Coalition of Concerned Citizens, the pair sent more than 930 letters to town supervisors across the state last week requesting their support in opposition to a piece of legislation known as Article X.
They fear Article X of the state Public Service Law, as called for by Gov. Eliot Spitzer, will take away home rule – or local – authority regarding the siting and permitting of energy facilities and put the power into the hands of the state.
Locally, the bills introduced would affect Orleans County town boards’ power to allow or prevent the construction of 400-foot wind energy towers, Miller said.
“It’s not my idea of local government,” she said. “We’ll have to live with them as to what Albany dictates (and) they won’t take our particular communities, as we know them, into consideration.”
“We feel that we are, and will be, much better represented by leaving the home rule of our communities where it belongs – with our elected town boards with whom we citizens and residents have a direct voice.”
Spanning Orleans, Genesee and Livingston counties, the Coalition of Concerned Citizens is largely led by Sandy Swanson of Stafford and has about 10 active members, Miller said. Their ultimate goal is to get Spitzer, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, Senate Energy Chairman James Wright and all of their representatives to stop the legislation in its tracks.
In addition to the letters, a project that has been in the works since August, Miller has started her own local petition. She is encouraging residents to sign it and to begin taking an active role in town policy, she said. That includes researching the potential effects of wind energy on the community and encouraging their towns to adopt or strengthen their zoning ordinance regulations.
“They’re not going to pay attention to a few signatures here and there. The more signatures, the more they’re going to pay attention – hopefully,” she said.
Miller served on the Gaines Wind Advisory Committee, which decided in a majority vote last fall that commercial wind energy facilities are not in the best interest of the town.
Airtricity, a company recently purchased by E.ON cq. KK has proposed building 55 to 80 towers in the towns of Gaines and Albion. Iberdrola Renewables recently took over the collection of data from meteorological towers in the Town of Barre and has yet to make a proposal.
The towns of Ridgeway, Murray and Shelby have all adopted new wind facilities regulations, with approval by the Orleans County Planning Board, as well as their local planning boards.
“I think it’s really important that people wake up and start paying attention to the fact that they’re losing control of their government, which has a direct impact on them,” Miller said. “This is beginning to be a crucial time.”
By Nicole Coleman
5 March 2008
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