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Judge dismisses Litchfield wind turbine lawsuit

A Herkimer County Supreme Court judge last week dismissed a lawsuit challenging the Litchfield wind turbine law.

While town law bans industrial turbines, smaller, domestic powered turbines – 120 feet or less at 50 kilowatts – are permitted.

The complaint filed by several Litchfield residents challenged the local wind law and said the Town Board violated several laws in the process of creating the new law. The lawsuit alleged that:

• The plaintiffs want to nullify the decision to ban large scale wind energy systems, which they say is in violation of the state Environmental Quality Review Act.

• When adopting a zoning ordinance, Attorney Meave Tooher – of Tooher & Barone, LLP based in Albany who represented the residents – said officials did not refer to the county planning agency for review of the final local law. Though it was reviewed once, Tooher asserted that officials received suggestions but ignored them and enacted a completely different law.

• Officials did not abide by the Open Meetings Law.

Attorney Douglas H. Zamelis, who represented the town along with Town Attorney David Malone, said Judge Norman Siegel held that the petitioners didn’t have the legal standing to bring a claim under the state Environmental Quality Review Act, that the argument concerning the Open Meetings Law is barred by the expiration of the statute of limitations, and the law is not a zoning law, so referral to the planning agency is not required.

“The court saw right through this meritless lawsuit and summarily dismissed the petition on the Town Board’s motion” Zamelis said.

Tooher could not immediately be reached Monday.

Zamelis said the residents would have the right to appeal.