Litchfield, N.Y. – Several town residents have filed a notice of verified petition or complaint against former and current members of the Litchfield Town Council due to an ordinance that prohibits the development of wind farms in the municipality.
The legal action was filed earlier this week in Herkimer County Supreme Court.
The complaint asks for several things, including that the law adopted by the town council on March 13 be nullified and vacated, and that the defendants be required to complete court-ordered Open Meeting law compliance training.
The complaint addresses the plaintiffs’ displeasure over the town council banning the construction of industrial wind turbines and how it was handled by council members, which they say includes not properly notifying the public about meetings.
Listed as plaintiffs – or petitioners – in the suit are Shelby and Richard Barrett, John Chapman, Brian Landphere and Howard Rasbach. Listed as defendants – or respondents – are current council members James Entwistle, Terry Jones, Jeffrey Smith, Jonathan Knauth and Mark O’Sullivan, and former council members Kate Entwistle and Wayne Casler, who resigned as supervisor over the issues with the wind farm.
A news release from the plaintiffs states “the petitioners believe that not all named in the legal action have treated the town and residents unfairly. Due to the nature of these legal proceedings they reluctantly were required to name those parties in the action based on their elected positions on the Town Board at the time of the votes and actions.”
Smith was the only town council member to vote against the ban in March.
The complaint describes that since 2009, the town council has violated several laws in its mismanagement of wind energy development and local land use.
“By picking property winners and losers, ignoring our abundant and clean natural resources and using property rights to settle old scores, the town has left us with no other option than the courts,” said Chapman in a news release. “We’re unwilling to let Litchfield head the wrong direction because the Town Board has no direction.”
Jake Rasbach said during a telephone interview on Friday his family has lived in the town for more than 100 years and he wants to see the best for the town.
“It’s in the interest of the town’s future,” he said, also noting some of the financial attributes for the town and school that would come with a wind farm.
Barrett, also a town resident and property owner listed in the suit, said those who opposed the wind farm kept delaying a vote on it until they got, what he called, an “anti-wind majority” on the council.
“The intent is to do this correctly,” he said on Friday. “If they’re going to make laws they should do it correctly … It was a bad law to begin with.”
When Town Supervisor James Entwistle was contacted Friday for comment on the filing, he said he was unaware of any sort of legal action being taken against him or the town.
Town Attorney David Malone also said Friday afternoon he had not seen any paperwork regarding the suit and was unable to comment.
The construction of industrial wind turbines has been a heated issue in the town for the past three years, going back to April 2009 when the town council started to look into issues surrounding wind power. A series of meetings and public hearings were held by the town regarding the wind power issue, and a wind committee was formed to further investigate the issues and to draft a law.
Eventually, there was a proposal brought by Albany-based NorthWind and Power to build an eight-to-12 turbine wind farm on Dry Hill, which caused much debate between the residents before the law was passed banning them.
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