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McQueer files suit against Hammond Town Council

HAMMOND – Just days before the election, Democratic candidate for town supervisor Michele W. McQueer has filed an Article 78 petition against the Town Council.

The suit states that the town’s recently enacted Wind Energy Facilities law is arbitrary, capricious, unconstitutional, discriminatory, unreasonable and violates Article IX of the state constitution, according to documents obtained through St. Lawrence County Court.

“It discriminates against landowners who had contracts in place prior to the law being past and it sets unreasonable restrictions on developers,” she said.

Mrs. McQueer said the town of Hammond does not have zoning, and does not restrict any form of development aside from wind, which she says violates the constitution.

“(Town Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram) does nothing to stop a nuclear power plant from coming into town, but established a law to restrict wind development. He is not restricting anything else. He is singling out wind turbines, and that is unconstitutional,” she said.

The lawsuit comes only weeks after Mrs. McQueer attacked her opponent for wasting taxpayer dollars on excess legal fees, but she said Mr. Bertram could save the town money by choosing not to fight the Article 78 action.

“He still has an opportunity to rescind this law if he wants to settle without incurring more fees,” she said. “When I get elected, maybe I can use a portion of my supervisor’s salary to offset these costs, since I will not have to pay a secretary.”

Mr. Bertram stated Thursday that he was unaware the lawsuit was filed. He questioned Mrs. McQueer’s actions.

“I find it hard to fathom why someone who is going to run for office would file a lawsuit against the town,” he said. “Especially when my opponent has criticized me for costing the town money on legal fees.”

Mr. Bertram said that defending the suit would be a decision for the town board, but he feels the majority of Hammond residents will want to uphold the current Wind Energy Facilities Law.

“I am confident that the town board received proper legal advice from out attorney throughout the process. The exercise of developing a committee, holding public hearings and consulting the county Planning Board was designed to ensure we followed procedure,” he said. “I can’t speak for the town board, but I myself would say that we will have our attorney answer this lawsuit.”

The lawsuit was filed by Conboy, McKay, Bachman & Kendall LLP, Watertown, on behalf of Mrs. McQueer.