A lawsuit to stop wind development in Howard and remove town board member Bill Hatch will continue its way through court.
According to court documents from the Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department of New York, the court chose not dismiss an Article 78 lawsuit Tuesday following a motion by Hatch.
According to court documents provided by Arthur Giacalone, an attorney for petitioner Gerry Hedman, the court chose to continue hearing the case and will accept additional filings.
Town board member Bill Hatch, who has a lease with wind developer EverPower Renewables, was unaware of the ruling when contacted this morning.
“To be honest with you, I don’t follow it that closely,” Hatch said. “They’ve thrown more legal stuff at the town board in the last two years than you can possibly comprehend.”
Hedman’s case focuses on a signed statement by Hatch from Feb. 21, 2007, where he states he had not signed a lease or entered into an oral agreement with EverPower, which is planning to place 25 wind turbines on the hills south of Howard.
“There were a lot of people who they (EverPower) wanted to place turbines on their property, including Mr. Hedman,” Hatch said.
He said although he was approached to lease his land, he did not sign a lease until about six months ago.
“I signed a lease in 2008,” Hatch said, saying he and three or four other landowners signed leases with EverPower in January.
Before that point, he sat out of all wind-related discussions at the town’s board meetings, he said.
“You’ll notice… I’ve abstained in every instance, even before I signed a lease,” Hatch said.
The lawsuit is the second filed by Hedman and others in Howard to stop the wind development. The first lawsuit, filed in June 2006, was dismissed Aug. 2, 2007. The current lawsuit was filed June 17, 2007, with oral arguments being heard in September of last year.
The second lawsuit was was transfered to the appellate court from the Seneca County Supreme Court Jan. 20. Both lawsuits were heard in the Seneca County Supreme Court because the three Steuben County Supreme Court justices are members of the Steuben County Republican Party. Hatch is the chairman of the Steuben County GOP.
The order also removed Eric Hosmer, Kyle Hosmer, Richard Mariotto, William Harkenrider, Nikki Harkenrider and James Lindsay as petitioners, leaving only Hedman on the Article 78 lawsuit.
To continue the lawsuit, the order stated, the next round of briefs by Hedman need to be filed by July 17. The town board, EverPower and Hatch will have until Aug. 21 to respond to the briefs.
By Bob Clark
19 June 2008
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