September 9, 2010
New York

Henderson eyes total wind farm ban; Town Council instructs law firm to draft turbine law

By Sarah Haase, Times Staff Writer, Watertown Daily Times, 9 September 2010

HENDERSON – The Town Council made Henderson the first municipality in the north country that could enact a ban on commercial wind farms.

At its meeting Wednesday, the council voted 4-1 to allow the law firm Hancock & Estabrook LLP, Syracuse, to write a law that would ban all commercial wind development in the town.

Members of the council and the citizens wind committee met with lawyers who said the town already is effectively restricting wind turbine development on more than 90 percent of the land in the town, Supervisor Raymond A. Walker said.

“Based on what the citizens wind committee has already come up with, it’s a good idea to not allow wind energy in the town,” he said.

Councilman Frank W. Ross voted against the motion. He said he did not have enough time to read the two-page letter from the law firm that was distributed before the meeting.

Councilwoman Torre J. Parker-Lane pushed the issue with help from more than 30 community members, some of whom requested a board member read the letter out loud. She said the board needs to act on allowing the firm to draw up a law before summer residents leave and do not have an opportunity to attend the public hearing.

“If we’re going to put off this discussion, then I would like us to set up a date for a special meeting,” she said. “I really don’t want to put this off any longer. If we did the law according to what we have, it could leave us open. They suggested we do a complete ban on wind towers.”

Ms. Parker-Lane made the motion and she, Mr. Walker, Councilwoman Carol A. Hall and Councilman Steven C. Cote voted in favor.

During the meeting with the law firm, Mr. Walker said, the town also was asked whether it wanted to reserve the right to appeal the state Supreme Court’s dismissal of the town’s Article 78 proceeding.

In February, the town brought legal action against the town of Hounsfield, asking a judge to annul the Hounsfield Planning Board’s site plan approval for the proposed Galloo Island Wind Farm. Henderson filed a state Supreme Court Article 78 proceeding against Hounsfield, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Upstate NY Power.

On Aug. 18, Judge Joseph D. McGuire denied Henderson’s request, ruling in part that the town did not have standing to file an action.

The council voted 4-1, with Mr. Walker, Ms. Parker-Lane, Ms. Hall and Mr. Cote voting yes and Mr. Ross opposed, to reserve that right.

“We’re not doing anything yet, just keeping the option open,” Ms. Parker-Lane said.

The board is not moving forward with the formal appeal, but will have the option to do so several months down the road if it needs to, Mr. Walker said.

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