HAMMOND- The Town Council has ordered attorney Joseph Russell to respond to a lawsuit filed against the town over a recently enacted wind law, but the board has not decided if it will fight the suit.
The Article 78 action was filed by Michele W. McQueer, a former candidate for town supervisor who has been publicly opposed to the changes made to the Wind Energy Facilities Law over the past year.
Mrs. McQueer lost last week’s election to Town Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram.
The suit claims the new law is arbitrary, capricious, unconstitutional, discriminatory, unreasonable and violates Article IX of the state constitution, according to documents obtained through the St. Lawrence County Clerk’s Office. Mr. Bertram said he expects the board will defend against the suit, but the board has not voted to do so.
“I think the majority of residents want us to uphold the current law,” he said.
Mr. Bertram said the town board only recently received a copy of the suit, and the attorney is still reviewing it.
“It’s very early,” he said. “We have not made any decisions on how to approach this yet. But, I can tell you I want to see this end quickly.”
Any decisions regarding the lawsuit made before January will come from Mr. Bertram and councilors Douglas E. Delosh and James R. Tague. Councilors James E. Langtry and James C. Pitcher have both recused themselves from all discussions regarding Wind Energy Facilities law due to conflicts of interest.
Mr. Pitcher has a signed lease with Iberdrola Renewable Energies Inc., a wind energy developer that has been working to develop a project in Hammond for the past several years. Mr. Langtry’s sister also has a lease with the company.
The board make-up could change after the new year, according to unofficial results of the election, which show Mr. Langtry losing his seat on the board to Howard W. Demick.
Mr. Demick has also stated publicly that he would recuse himself from the discussion, as his brother has a lease with Iberdrola.
Absentee ballots could further change the board make-up, as Merritt V. Young could over-take a 37-vote lead held by Mr. Pitcher in the election.
St. Lawrence County Board of Elections officials say 97 absentee ballots were issued.
If elected, Mr. Young would be allowed to vote on wind-related issues. A Board of Elections official said Tuesday that results from the election are expected Friday afternoon.