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Hammond supervisor candidate plans lawsuit

HAMMOND – Candidate for town supervisor Michele W. McQueer said she fully intends to file an Article 78 lawsuit against the town board for procedural errors made when members passed a local law last year allowing them to act on land use issues with a simple majority vote.

Mrs. McQueer filed a land-based petition opposing the recently passed wind facilities law after the first public hearing held in July.

Without last year’s local law, the board would have needed a super majority vote to proceed with the law due to the petition. However, the law overrules the requirement.

“We knew that we may have a situation coming up, and we have two members who are conflicted and could not vote. We would not be able to act on this or other land use issues requiring a super majority if we did not pass that law,” said Town Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram.

Mrs. McQueer said passing the law was a slap in the face to the petitioners. She said the it was passed only to deny the will of the people.

“We had signatures from people owning over 35 percent of the land (in the town) and more than 85 percent of the land within the wind overlay district,” she said. “They are taking away home rule from land owners.”

Despite her problems with the law itself, Mrs. McQueer said the suit she is filing will target the procedural errors made by the board when enacting law.

Mr. Bertram said the board followed all proper procedures necessary to pass the local law. He said legal notices were issued at Jan. 11 meeting and public hearing was held Jan. 27, the day the town passed the law.

“Our attorney, Joe Russell, was at that meeting and he read the law in its entirety,” he said.

Mr. Bertram questioned the validity of Mrs. McQueer’s claims and said her decision to bring a suit against the town was hypocritical considering her recent criticism of him.

“My opponent took me to task for wasting money on legal fees and spending huge amounts of money, which she incorrectly quoted. Then she turned around and threatened to sue the town herself,” Mr. Bertram said. “I question why she needs to bring a needless lawsuit against us and spend taxpayers’ money.”

Mrs. McQueer said she is concerned about the cost of the lawsuit, but fingered Mr. Bertram as the person responsible for it.

“I offered them a chance to reconsider passing the law at the public hearing, but they chose not to do it. If he is breaking the law, shouldn’t he be held responsible?” she said.

Mrs. McQueer said she is waiting for a copy of the final wind law, and will file the lawsuit against the town board once it is received.