CHATEAUGAY – Town officials want the developers of the proposed Jericho Rise wind farm project to establish an escrow account to cover the town’s legal and engineering fees related to the project.
Town Board members agreed to require Horizon Wind Energy to place $50,000 in an account that the town can use to pay its project-related bills. The board voted to hire Attorney Carl J. Madonna to represent the town’s interests and board members said they hope to hire Conestoga-Rovers & Associates, an Ottawa, Ontario-based engineering firm, as consultants.
The town has used the services of both in the past and Supervisor Don Bilow said, “They were up front with us.”
The move came as town officials prepare to meet again with Horizon officials to discuss the revival of the long-dormant project. Jericho Rise was first proposed over a decade ago, but little was done since 2009, when Houston-based Horizon put the project on hold. In November, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the wind farm was one of four renewable energy projects that would share in $206 million in state funds through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
The project calls for the construction of 53 wind turbines, 34 in the town of Chateaugay and 19 in the town of Bellmont, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Bilow also asked board members if any of them has any type of conflict of interest related to the company coming into Chateaugay. Any conflict would have to be divulged before negotiations start, Bilow said.
Councilman William Trombley stated that he had planned at one time to sign a lease with Verizon for a prior wind tower project, but that he subsequently opted not to go forward. None of the other board members said they had conflicts that needed to be revealed.
The issue of conflict of interest arose last month when Burke Town Attorney Nathan Race determined Councilman William Wood had an apparent conflict related to proposed wind farm regulations in the town because he has expressed an interest in having turbines erected on land he owns. Wood had been attending meetings involving Chateaugay and Bellmont officials and representatives of Horizon, even though there are no current plans to place any of the towers in Burke.
Bilow told the Chateaugay board members that the town plans to follow the recently adopted Franklin County Code of Ethics, which prohibits elected officials with a perceived conflict of interest from even participating in discussions related to the issue over which the conflict arises.
Horizon officials have said they hope to have roads leading to the wind tower sites built in 2016 with construction of the towers slated for 2017.
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