CHAUMONT – The Lyme Town Council reined in the Planning Board a little bit Wednesday night.
The Lyme Planning Board had sent two letters to the Cape Vincent Planning Board, calling for the final environmental impact statement for the proposed St. Lawrence Wind Farm to be knocked down.
The Cape Vincent board approved the statement Sept. 15, but the Lyme board sent two letters to the Cape Vincent board, one Aug. 17 and one Tuesday, outlining possible gaps in the statement.
The first letter was signed by Albert H. Bowers III, a Lyme Planning Board member and well-known opponent of wind power. The second was signed by Planning Board Chairman Paul D. Norton.
“We were all on board with it,” Mr. Bowers said.
Mr. Norton was called into a half-hour executive session by the Town Council on Wednesday night after some members of the public and council showed ire over the letters. Speculations were that the executive session, called for personnel issues, would include talk on expelling Mr. Bowers. New York state’s Open Meetings Law allows boards to enter into executive session for eight specific reasons. Discussing the removal of a publicly appointed member of a public board is not one of the topics for which executive sessions may be held.
“There won’t be any changes to the Planning Board,” Lyme Supervisor Scott G. Aubertine said after the executive session. “We may not have really disagreed with the letter, but we would’ve liked to know beforehand.”
He said the council will clarify the role of the Planning Board.
“We’ve had so many changes lately,” he said. “The Planning Board members are not sure what the Planning Board is supposed to do.”
According to the town’s zoning law, Lyme’s Zoning Board of Appeals generally handles special-use permits, which will be required for St. Lawrence Wind Farm’s transmission line, and the environmental review process.
But the Lyme Planning Board was one of several Lyme boards included as involved agencies in the St. Lawrence Wind Farm project. Involved agencies were asked if they wanted to dispute the Cape Vincent Planning Board’s status as lead agency in the environmental review process.
“As far as I was concerned, the letters were Planning Board to Planning Board,” Mr. Bowers said. “The letters highlighted the ways the statement doesn’t follow the process, which is really important.”
In Tuesday’s letter, the Lyme Planning Board reiterated that the Cape Vincent Planning Board has not been sharing information with it as an involved agency and that environmental effects in Lyme were not considered as they should have been.
“We should not have had to rely on newspaper accounts or documents found on the Internet in our attempt to keep current on the project application,” the letter said.
The letter lists possible substantial adverse effects from the project, including noise, wildlife and vegetation damage, conflict with comprehensive plans from both towns, hazards to human health and property value decline. The letter also said the Cape Vincent Planning Board did not adequately assess the environmental effects of the St. Lawrence Wind Farm with other active and proposed projects, including Cape Vincent Wind Farm and Wolfe Island Wind Farm and the offshore expansion to Wolfe Island Wind Farm.
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