RICHFIELD – Residents have filed an Article 78 lawsuit against the Richfield Planning Board in an attempt to block the wind project proposed there.
The lawsuit, which was filed yesterday in state Supreme Court, seeks to overturn the Planning Board’s declaration that the project would not have any significant environmental impacts.
Richfield resident Larry Frigault, who is one of the petitioners and the spokesman for the Protect Richfield group, said there is no way the project would have anything but major impacts in the town.
“We really think this was an attempt to railroad this through before anybody knew about it,” Frigault said.
Filed by 34 residents in the area, the lawsuit claims the Planning Board violated the Open Meetings Law, Agriculture and Markets Law, General Municipal Law, the State Environmental Quality Review Act and other laws. It also names the wind developer and landowners who have entered into agreements with the company.
The proposed Monticello Hills Wind project would feature six 492-feet-tall turbines along Route 20 in Richfield. Ridgeline Energy, which is based in Seattle and is part of France-based Veolia Environnement, is the developer for the project.
Patrick Doyle, Ridgeline Energy’s vice president of development, said he hasn’t seen the lawsuit yet, but he will look at it and take things from there.
“We believe the Planning Board went through a thorough review,” he said.
Richfield Planning Board Chairman Donald Urtz said he isn’t surprised the lawsuit was filed, but the Planning Board conducted its review following advice from the town attorney and an independent adviser.
“To my knowledge, we worked just the way we were supposed to,” Urtz said.
In November, the Planning Board voted 3-2 to make the negative declaration under the State Quality Environmental Review process and 3-2 to issue a special-use permit for the project.
The next step is for a host-community agreement to be negotiated and approved. The Richfield Town Board on Monday tabled their decision on the agreement.
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