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Enfield Town Board seeks stronger wind pact

The Enfield Town Board held off on a vote Wednesday on wind-farm developer John Rancich’s proposed developer’s agreement in order to send it back to the town attorney to get a stronger agreement.

Town Supervisor Frank Podufalski said from what he’s seen and heard, a local wind law and a developer’s agreement are used during wind farm projects, so asking Guy Krogh, the town attorney, to strengthen the agreement would allow the town board to comfortably approve it down the road.

Krogh expressed concerns over several portions of the agreement, most notably that the town has yet to adopt a local wind law. Councilman Herb Masser said the town planning board is very close to submitting a proposal for the local law. All that’s needed before passing it to the town are a few changes in the language, he said.

Rancich submitted the agreements in order to obtain the town’s word that it won’t block the project and so he may go ahead and sign a contract to purchase wind turbines. Steve Bauman, Rancich’s associate, said the purchase could be as much as $10 million, which makes it prudent to seek an agreement with the town.

Krogh said in an e-mail to Podufalski that payments made to the town from the wind farm could be construed as a bribe as it’s worded in the agreement. Podufalski and Masser said that was not the intent of the developer but rather a flaw in the language.

Originally Rancich requested the town be the lead agency in the state environmental quality review. However, Podufalski said the town cannot afford to take on such a project and the state Department of Environmental Conservation would likely want to be lead agency.

It would take the DEC at least nine months to conduct the review, Podufalski said.

The town board also held two public hearings on a proposal to build additional municipal buildings, which town officials estimate could cost between $1 million and $2 million.

Podufalski said if the town moves forward with the buildings, he would prefer not to raise funds through taxes but instead use a capital reserve of $500,000 as a down payment and bond the project for as many as 30 years.

The town has spent roughly $30,000 to date on site plan review for the project. The buildings are proposed in two locations – a public safety building and town court where the current highway department and town hall sit, and the additional buildings are proposed at the intersection of Trumbulls Corners and Route 327.

The board also discussed alternatives to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals if it cannot give the town the lowest offer.

By Tim Ashmore

The Ithaca Journal

10 July 2008