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Ecogen group unwilling to find middle ground  

Credit:  By Mary Perham, Bath Courier, www.steubencourier.com 14 November 2010 ~~

Prattsburgh, NY – Wind developer Ecogen apparently sees no compromise in its ongoing lawsuit with the town of Prattsburgh.

In a written response to state Supreme Court Justice John J. Ark, Ecogen’s attorney Robert W. Burgdorf said the town’s offer of remote location for the turbines would “effectively kill” the project in Prattsburgh.

Prattsburgh officials counter the new location was included in Ecogen’s original plan and would solve a number of problems, including noise issues.

“They’re not going to bother anybody down there,” said town Councilman Chuck Shick.

The debate was launched after Ark recommended the battling parties work out a solution, in order to avoid costly future litigation.

Ecogen filed the lawsuit last January against the current Prattsburgh town board, claiming a resolution passed 3-2 in December by the former town board allows the developer to go ahead immediately with plans to put up 16 turbines.

The current town board rescinded the December resolution 4-1 at the beginning of the year, saying it was illegal and violated home rule laws.

Ecogen still sees the earlier resolution as valid, Burgdorf wrote Ark on Oct. 13.

But Ark wants a closer look at why the settlement was approved so quickly – a good sign, Shick said.

The December settlement was drawn up by then-town attorney John Leyden, with the support of former town Supervisor Harold McConnell.

The former board’s action came close on the heels of a lawsuit filed by Ecogen days after pro-wind board members McConnell and Sharon Quigley were soundly defeated in the November general election.

“(Ark) wants to hear why some decisions were made,” Shick said. “He wants John and Harold to explain their actions, under oath. I’d like to know that, myself.”

Shick and Councilman Steve Kula voted against the December agreement, and voted to rescind it in January as members of the new board.

Prattsburgh officials say Ecogen can put turbines in a remote area in the town originally included in the developer’s site plan. The original plan called for 100 turbines to be set up in town, with 34 potential locations in Prattsburgh’s southwestern corner, Shick said.

Burgdorf dismissed Prattsburgh’s proposal, saying the change would require years of environmental studies, new permits and new land control efforts.

“(It) would be an insurmountable task,” Burgdorf wrote to Ark.

However, Ark’s effort to get both sides to agree did lead to the first informal discussion this year between the town and Ecogen’s parent company, Pattern Energy.

New town Supervisor Al Wordingham declined to give specifics about the discussion, which occurred two weeks ago, but said it was “very positive.”

The wind farm project has been the source of debate in the town, stretching back to 2002 when the developer announced plans to put turbines in Prattsburgh.

Ecogen also planned to build 17 turbines in the neighboring town of Italy, in Yates County. Ecogen also is suing Italy, which turned down the project a year ago.

The projects were touted in the beginning by some Prattsburgh board members and many residents as a way to provide renewable energy, increase town revenues and provide income for landowners.

Other residents have strenuously opposed the projects on the grounds the turbines could irreparably harm people in the area, the environment, and the landscape.

Source:  By Mary Perham, Bath Courier, www.steubencourier.com 14 November 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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