September 13, 2010
New York

Ruling nears in windfarm disputes

By Mary Perham, Bath Courier, 12 September 2010

Prattsburgh, NY – A decision on two separate wind farm lawsuits in the area could be made within weeks.
Prattsburgh and Italy town officials said Thursday they will meet with their attorneys to answer a series of questions posed by state Supreme Court Justice John Ark.
Some of Ark’s questions also appear directed at wind developer Ecogen, LLC which filed separate lawsuits against the two towns, town officials said.
The questions are supposed to be answered before Ark meets Sept. 27 with attorneys from all sides.
“We’ve been waiting all these months, and now we get this crunch date,” Prattsburgh Town Supervisor Al Wordingham said. “To tell you the truth I’m not sure what to think.”
At issue is Ecogen’s claim it has a right to proceed immediately with its plans to build 16 turbines in Prattsburgh and 17 turbines in Italy, in neighboring Yates County.
Although Ecogen has claimed in the past the two projects are not the same project, it has conceded Italy is the lynchpin for both.
Until recently, Italy also has been the bigger problem for Ecogen, with many townspeople questioning the project since it was first proposed in 2002.
After a number of moratoriums and a successfully defended lawsuit, last October the Italy board denied Ecogen the applications it needed to set up the 415-foot tall turbines. The developer promptly filed a lawsuit against the town, charging there was no basis for the denials.
Ecogen fared better in Prattsburgh with a friendly town board, at first, despite strong opposition. But in February 2009, reports of intolerable noise at an operating wind farm in nearby Cohocton concerned the entire board and energized the project’s opponents.
When two pro-wind council members were defeated in their re-election bids, Ecogen threatened to sue the town if agreements were not reached. The lame-duck board quickly passed the agreements with Ecogen by 3-2 votes in December.
However, the new board rescinded the December agreements, 4-1, and Ecogen filed a lawsuit against Prattsburgh.
Wordingham said many of the questions Ark now has seem to be repeats of points the parties have made in the past.
The list makes sense to Italy Town Supervisor Brad Jones.
“I think he’s trying to get the parties to simplify the issues,” Jones said. “All the legal language and hundreds of pages, it’s been so convoluted for so long. I think he wants us to define the issues we’re arguing.”
After years of contention, and surprises, neither supervisor wants to guess what Ark’s decision will finally be.
“We’ll just have to answer the man’s questions and see what happens,” Wordingham said.

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