During the past year, several towns in the region have grappled with the issue of wind power, but none perhaps more contentiously than Meredith in Delaware County.
Regardless of how you stand on wind power, Meredith has become a great example of townspeople with the legal right to control their fate actually exercising their democratic powers to take charge of their lives.
A year ago, Meredith planners were working on an ordinance to regulate industrial wind turbines. After their work was completed, the town board made changes to their proposal, held hearings and passed a law many thought too lenient to wind-power developers.
So, in July, when it was time to file to run for town offices in the November election, the planning chairman and others who opposed the town board’s action decided to use the ballot box to get the power to rescind the ordinance they opposed.
In November, the anti-industrial turbine candidates were elected in fairly close votes, presumably with a mandate to proceed to change course on the law the town board had passed. And, indeed, that is what is happening,
New town board members, keeping their campaign promise, are proposing to rescind Meredith’s wind-energy law and ban industrial wind turbines.
Less than a month after the board overturned the ordinance adopted by the town board last summer, a public hearing on the proposed ban was scheduled for last week, but weather forced postponement until March 18.
Supervisor Keitha Capouya, who chaired the planning board last year, cited what she thought was a mandate for the board’s action.
There had “a great deal of feeling about banning industrial wind turbines in the town,” she said, noting that more than 800 people signed a petition opposing industrial wind, and of the dozens of people who spoke at last year’s hearing on the original law, only six or seven were in favor of permitting industrial wind.
She said the proposed law does not ban small wind projects.
“We are very much in favor of alternative energy,” Capouya said. “We are putting together a task force to explore small wind, solar, geo-thermal and private bio-mass energy projects.”
Capouya and her allied councilmen Ron Bailey and Dan Birnbaum readily acknowledge that they ran for office for a cause and are going to fulfill their pledges.
Though we generally have been in favor of wind development as an alternative energy source, we also respect the rights of citizens to democratically control the policies of their communities.
And the new leaders in the town of Meredith are doing just that.
10 March 2008
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