After almost four months of waiting, State Supreme Court Judge David Demarest has handed down his decision in the Article 78 lawsuit brought against the Hammond Town Board by Iberdrola leaseholders Michele and Daniel McQueer, William Hadlock, Steven Demick and interested party Crayton Buck. At the regular Hammond Town Board meeting tonight (July 9, 2012), Supervisor Ron Bertram read a brief court document that exonerated the town board of all charges.
The lawsuit was filed against the town board just days before the November 2011 election by then Democratic candidate for town supervisor Michele W. McQueer and stated the town’s revised Wind Energy Facilities law was arbitrary, capricious, unconstitutional, discriminatory, unreasonable and violates Article IX of the state constitution. In an interview at the time with an Ogdensburg Journal reporter, McQueer stated the law discriminated against landowners who had contracts in place prior to the law being past and it set unreasonable restrictions on developers. She also stated 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. According to the reporter’s article the lawsuit came only weeks after 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. At Monday night’s meeting, Town Councilman Dr. Jim Tague asked Supervisor Bertram for an estimate of the cost to taxpayers to date to defend the lawsuit and received an answer of approximately $31,000.
Concerned Residents of Hammond president Mary Hamilton issued the following response to the announcement:
We are pleased State Supreme Court Judge Demarest has seen fit to place the health and safety of the residents of Hammond over the financial gain of a company who has brought heartache and disruption to every small community it has entered. We feel the exemplary work done, first by the Hammond Wind Advisory Board and then by the Hammond Town Board, in an effort to take a “hard look:” at the complexities of industrial wind, has withstood the challenge. We also feel the defense Mr. Russell’s office provided in court was instrumental in providing the judge with the factual information needed to make a “fair and just” decision. With this issue now behind us, the Concerned Residents look forward to participating in the public opportunities being offered by the St. Lawrence County Planning Office to develop a town comprehensive plan and “vision” for Hammond’s future.
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