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Hammond officials prepare for lawsuit

HAMMOND – Town officials have ordered attorney Joseph Russell to defend against a lawsuit filed by residents opposing the town’s Wind Energy Facilities Law.

The Article 78 action was filed by group of Hammond residents including Michele and Daniel McQueer, Steven Demick, William Hadlock and Crayton Buck.

The suit claims the recently passed law is arbitrary, capricious, unconstitutional, discriminatory, unreasonable and violates Article IX of the state constitution.

Mrs. McQueer warned the board she would take legal action against the town if the board passed the law during the public hearing held in October. She made good on her threat in November, when lawsuit was filed. She said the board has singled-out wind development unfairly and taken action to ensure wind energy convergence systems would not be built in town.

Town Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram said the board has acted in the interest of the town, under the direction of Mr. Russell, and worked careful to ensure its actions were legal every step of the way. He said the town board has agreed to defend against the accusations.

Mr. Bertram said a court date, originally set for December, has been postponed until February, but he could not explain why.

“I am not sure who asked for it, but it has been postponed until February,” he said,

Mr. Bertram said the town has been asked to submit various records proving the board had supplied sufficient notice for public hearings as well as documents that show the town followed proper protocol related to passing a law.

“There really isn’t much to report at this time,” he said.

Mr. Bertram said the lawsuit will likely cost the taxpayers a significant sum of money. He estimated attorney fees related to the suit are already totalling approximately $5,400.

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