ORANGEVILLE – A court decision which found no conflicts of interest among the Town Board has been upheld.
State Supreme Court Judge Patrick NeMoyer dismissed a lawsuit by Clear Skies Over Orangeville last April. The group then appealed his decision.
The court’s appellate division upheld the judgment on Friday.
The CSOO members had filed suit in January 2010. The group was seeking to invalidate the town’s 2009 zoning amendments which set the rules for wind turbine development.
The group was also asking the court to order the Town Board to comply with State Environmental Quality Review procedural mandates; to declare the Town Board lacked jurisdiction to vote for the zoning; award attorney fees and similar costs; and any other relief the town deemed proper.
The CSOO allegations were almost entirely rejected in NeMoyer’s decision. It confirmed the group had the legal standing to challenge the zoning amendments, and had demonstrated it might be adversely affected by noise, view and other wind farm impacts.
But the group’s arguments were otherwise denied.
NeMoyer found that the Town Board did not act unlawfully when it approved the zoning amendments. He also found no ethics violations or conflicts of interest among the voting members.
Any tangential or indirect interests CSOO alleged had been fully disclosed as required, NeMoyer ruled. Nor were any conflicts found between the town’s zoning amendments and comprehensive plan.
In issuing the negative State Environmental Quality Review declaration for the zoning amendments, the Town Board members had fulfilled their legal obligations, NeMoyer wrote. He added the town’s SEQR declaration was not illegal, arbitrary or capricious, and didn’t constitute an abuse of discretion.
Wind energy has been a contentious issue in the town.
CSOO opposes the Invenergy corporation’s proposed 59-turbine Stony Creek Wind Farm. It’s been the subject of occasionally-intense debate between opponents and supporters.
Invenergy has made NeMoyer’s 31-page decision – along with other project documents – available online at http://www.invenergyllc.com/stonycreek/.
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