Italy, N.Y. – Town Supervisor Brad Jones says he’s satisfied with the way things went during a Sept. 27 courtroom session in Rochester before Judge John J. Ark.
Ark is presiding over the case filed by Ecogen LLC against the Town of Italy.
Ecogen is trying to force the town to permit the construction of up to 17 wind turbines in Italy as part of a utility scale wind development that would span both Italy and Prattsburgh.
There is a similar case between Ecogen and the Town of Prattsburgh that is also being heard by Ark.
The Sept. 27 session was to go over responses to a series of questions Ark posed to all the parties involved in the cases.
Ark has yet to hand down his decision in a motion for dismissal filed by the Town of Italy, but Jones says his optimism lies in some of the questions and suggestions that were discussed.
The bottom line is, the judge has asked Ecogen to take two weeks to consider some of the alternatives that were discussed in the courtroom and in his chambers.
Jones says those alternatives include:
• Ark suggested that the parties take another look at engineering studies done in the spring that, if used as the basis for regulation, could require that wind turbines be built 4,000 feet from a neighboring property.
• Ecogen considering a project with much smaller turbines.
• Ecogen considering a project located in southern Prattsburgh, where more agricultural land users may welcome the development and leases. If Ecogen moves the project to southern Prattsburgh, Jones said the Town of Italy would offer assistance to the company in marketing the parcels of land the company purchased in Italy. Jones says he would like to see the parcels targeted for sustainable agriculture use, which would benefit the town’s tax base and allow Ecogen to go to an area where the turbines would have the support of the locals.
Jones said Italy officials are working on a letter to send to Ecogen laying out the alternatives, but he’s not sure when the next court session will be scheduled.
The town of Italy is without legal representation at this point. The town’s former legal firm, Harter, Secrest & Emery was released by Ark in September at the firm’s request because the town of Italy is not able to pay the firm’s bills, which total around $200,000.
During the Sept. 8 hearing about that motion, Jones told Ark the town’s property tax levy might have to increase by 20 to 30 percent in order to pay the entire bill from one annual budget.
Jones says the town is still in discussions about a payment plan with the firm.
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