HAMMOND – After nearly two years of debate Hammond’s town council has passed a revised wind facilities law, but not without the threat of a lawsuit.
Following a public hearing, which drew approximately 30 residents, board members Ronald W. Bertram, James Tague and Douglas Delosh, voted in favor of the proposed wind facilities law. Councilors James Langtry and James C. Pitcher recused themselves from the issue and were not present at the meeting.
During the hearing, those in attendance largely supported the board’s decision. However, a letter penned by Michele W. McQueer, who is challenging Mr. Bertram for town supervisor, threatened legal action against the board.
Mrs. McQueer said the board members made procedural errors in drafting the law. She said the council ignored a land-based petition with 197 signatures on it, which should have required the board to have a super majority vote to revisit the wind facilities law.
Mrs. McQueer said she has already contacted an attorney and plans to file the suit in short order.
“We expected this all along. (Mr. Bertram) was elected by a special interest group to pass this law and for this reason only,” she said. “Now he wants to ignore the voices of more than 200 people.”
Mrs. McQueer said her letter was intended as an opportunity for the board to reconsider its support of the new law and save the taxpayers a costly court battle.
“I gave them a chance. They chose to ignore it,” she said.
Despite the threat of a lawsuit, Mr. Bertram said he was happy with the law and the public support at the hearing. He said the law was crafted carefully, with the best interest of the town in mind.
“I believe that this wind law, in its present form, will allow for the safe siting of industrial wind and will protect the health, safety and welfare of all townspeople,” he said.
In regards to the lawsuit, Mr. Bertram said the town has acted in a proper fashion, taking great care to abide by the correct process every step of the way.
“I question why there would be any litigation? We have consulted our attorney throughout the process,” he said.
Mary Hamilton, president of the Concerned Residents of Hammond, a group that supported the new law, said she was very pleased with the board’s action and looked forward to an amendment that will include a real property value guarantee for adjacent land owners.
CROH filed a suit against the former town board regarding procedural errors related to the previous wind facilities law in 2010. The suit led, at least in part, to current board’s decision to revisit the law.
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