RICHFIELD SPRINGS – Advocates for a proposed moratorium that would keep all heavy industry out of the town of Richfield – including wind turbines – were left disappointed Monday night when only two of the four town board members voted in favor of the measure.
Those especially upset were members of Protect Richfield, the group that stands ins opposition to the proposed Monticello Hills wind farm project that has divided the community. The two board members voting in favor of the moratorium were Town Supervisor Fran Enjem and William Seamon. Those opposed to the moratorium were Laurie Bond and Mary Margaret Snyder.
Snyder drew derisive laughs from the mostly anti-wind farm crowd when she praised what she contended was a thorough review completed by the town Planning Board of the six-turbine project, and contended the moratorium would usurp that panel’s authority in land-use matters.
Enjem said the moratorium was needed to “protect the people of Richfield,” and pointed out the measure was simply a temporary remedy that would give the town time to work on a comprehensive plan that has never been completed for the community.
The board has had a vacancy since the death earlier this year of town board member Bonnie Domion. One of the candidates running for that seat, insurance executive Larry Frigault, said he doesn’t trust stated assurances from representatives of the company that has proposed the wind farm, Ridgeline Energy, that there would not be additional turbines constructed in Richfield once six 492-foot-tall structures are erected. Frigault said he suspects the company “will try to fit as many as they can squeeze into the real estate.”
Of the four current board members, only Snyder is not up for election this year. Enjem, who has expressed strong reservations with a proposed community host agreement for the wind farm, is being opposed by Nick Palevsky, a supporter of the turbines.
“I want the host agreement to protect the community, and right now the way it’s written it favors the company,” said Enjem, noting he is neutral on the wind farm itself.
Last week, the Planning Board voted to award a required permit to Ridgeline Energy for the wind farm.
However, that vote was disputed by Enjem, who cited the fact that an alternate member of the planning board was allowed to vote even though he has never been appointed as a regular board member.
Whether the permit was issued legally or not remains in question, the town supervisor said.