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Petition opposes Hammond wind law

HAMMOND – A land-based protest petition opposing the town’s revamped wind law may become the basis for new litigation against the Town Council.

“I do not currently have the petition,” said town Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram on Wednesday, adding that the petition document was “delivered to the town clerk.”

As of Tuesday evening at the public hearing Mr. Bertram said he had not seen the petition.

“And I had checked my mailbox,” for any pertinent material prior to the hearing, he added.

According to the supervisor, Michele W. McQueer handed town Clerk Darlene V. Amyot a letter on Tuesday evening, “attached to a letter from a lawyer, with two additional pages to be added to the petition.”

Mrs. McQueer’s letter was accompanied by another from Scott B. Goldie, of Conboy, McKay, Bachman & Kendall, Watertown, Mr. Bertram said.

“We made the decision as a town board that we would read and discuss it in executive session,” he said.

Mrs. McQueer said Wednesday morning that the protest petition, containing 197 signatures and representing nearly 15,000 acres of Hammond property, was in opposition to Local Law No. 2 of 2011 “in its entirety.”

“We don’t agree with it,” she said. “Its too strict and doesn’t allow wind development in Hammond.”

Following the hearing Tuesday, she said she wondered why Mr. Bertram, who read about 25 written comments aloud in addition to 15 citizens that spoke for themselves, failed to read her letter.

“The letter was actually addressed to the town board from Citizens of Hammond For Wind, so I wouldn’t say it is a letter from Michele,” Mr. Bertram said. “That letter makes mention of litigation in two or three spots.”

Mrs. McQueer called the petition “the voice” for the majority of land owners in Hammond.

“Last night was another example of support actually outweighing opposition,” she said. She said people signed the petition rather than speaking aloud because “they’re sick and tired of getting attacked,” by outspoken anti-wind parties.

Mr. Bertram said that although the town council decided not to read Mrs. McQueer’s letter aloud, she was in attendance at the meeting and could have read it herself.

“There were a couple of speakers that spoke about things that weren’t pertinent to the content of the law,” he said. “I didn’t set a time limit, and nobody was stopped,” while speaking.

As for Local Law No. 2 of 2011 moving forward, Mr. Bertram said, more public hearings could be on the horizon.

“We’re currently waiting for the (St. Lawrence County) Planning Board’s review,” he said.

He said the county board had been granted a 30-day extension at the town’s meeting July 11, and meets next Aug. 11.Mr. Bertram said if the county Planning Board makes significant changes to the law’s revisions, another public hearing would be necessary. It would also put the three voting members remaining in wind issue discussions in Hammond in a perilous position.

“If they suggest changes, we have to take them,” he said.

He said a super-majority (four out of five council members) is required to overturn such a decision.

Still voting on wind issues are Mr. Bertram and Councilmen Douglas E. Delosh and Dr. James R. Tague. Councilmen James C. Pitcher and James E. Langtry, both running for re-election in November, are recusing themselves because of signed wind leases with Iberdrola.

A public hearing would also be forthcoming, Mr. Bertram said, if the Real Property Value Guarantee provision currently with town attorney Joseph W. Russell is to be added to the law.

As for the executive session to review the materials from Citizens of Hammond For Wind, Mr. Bertram said he expects that to occur at a special council meeting Monday at 7 p.m. in the town offices, 17 North Main St.

The board will also open sand and salt storage facility bids.