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Wind site plan criteria OK’d

CAPE VINCENT – The town Planning Board unanimously adopted the site plan criteria submitted by the St. Lawrence Wind Farm’s developer, Acciona Wind Energy USA, Wednesday night in front of some 100 members of the public, a sheriff’s deputy and a state trooper.

However, nobody in the audience actually heard the motion because anti-wind protesters were chanting “Andrew Cuomo, stop this board now” some 5 feet away from the board the whole time.

Councilman Brooks J. Bragdon, who was sitting at the table with the Planning Board, said he also could not hear anything and had only realized what happened when Planning Board Chairman Richard J. Edsall told him shortly after the meeting was adjourned.

“They did it right in front of us, behind our backs,” said Hester M. Chase, founder of the St. Lawrence River Public Power Association and one of dozens of people who were demanding that the Planning Board take no action before setbacks were established.

The association got a $99,000 grant through the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program last winter to conduct a feasibility study on the capacity of the local grid, find possible sites for wind turbines, analyze the wind resource and collect data on noise and environmental issues.

The meeting, which was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., was “suspended” by Mr. Edsall because of protests and discussions within the audience.

But officially, the meeting itself only lasted 30 seconds from start to finish as the board reopened the meeting shortly after 8 p.m., and Mr. Edsall made a motion to adopt the criteria – which was seconded by board member Thomas K. Rienbeck – and quickly adjourned it without further discussion.

Mr. Edsall refused to comment on the criteria adopted at the public meeting.

“The whole meeting came to a screeching halt and then these people went off into a corner somewhere and just adopted it, rubber stamped it. They used the disturbance to their advantage,” said former councilman and Jefferson County Planning Board member Clifford J. Schneider.

Acciona’s project manager, Timothy Q. Conboy, said the company’s next step is to submit a supplemental application to the initial site plan application sometime in January or February.

“The meeting tonight was just intended to talk about what would be in our application. We’re going to submit the application to the town and they are going to decide whether it is complete or not. And then the site plan review process would start,” Mr. Conboy said.

Mr. Bragdon said he could not share the criteria with the public Wednesday night but that the list of criteria can be obtained Thursday through a freedom of information law request to the town clerk.