SOMERSET – Randall B. Atwater, whose wife is the president of a citizen group opposing a wind turbine project in Somerset and Yates, is listed among a group of public officials who have sold or leased land for the project.
Pamela R. Atwater, president of Save Ontario Shores, or SOS, said her husband, a member of the Barker Board of Education, did not sell land to Apex Clean Energy for its Lighthouse Wind project.
A company in which Randall Atwater has an investment auctioned off a parcel of land on County Line Road in Yates in December 2015, and Apex bought it at the auction, she said.
Cat Mosley, an Apex spokeswoman, confirmed Apex bought the County Line Road parcel in an auction.
Pamela Atwater said the outcome doesn’t change her opposition to the wind project. She said, “Obviously, I was disappointed, but we had no control over who bought it.”
Apex is trying to obtain state permission to erect as many as 70 wind turbines in Somerset and Yates, two towns on the shore of Lake Ontario. Both towns are trying to defeat the project in the face of a state siting law which local officials claim rigs the process in the developer’s favor.
Article 10 of the state Public Service Law places the decision in the hands of a seven-member siting board, five of whose members are state officials. Randall Atwater was to be one of the local members, but he was disqualified because his seat on the School Board makes him an elected official.
Article 10 also requires that the developer must publish a list of any public officials in the affected locality, or their relatives, who have sold or leased land to the developer.
Three of the names listed on the disclosure form, which was released last week, already had been revealed by Somerset officials. They are Councilman Gary R. Alt, whose mother signed a lease for four parcels on West Somerset Road; Planning Board member Christopher Czelusta, who signed a lease for a lot on Hosmer Road; and Code Enforcement Officer Stephen B. Lee, who leased land on Haight Road.
Pamela Atwater said Randall Atwater is an employee of Shoreline Fruit, which formerly operated a dried fruit factory on 15 acres of land on Countyline Road in Yates. The partners in Michigan who control the company moved all fruit production to that state four years ago, and put the Yates land up for sale. No one made an offer, so an auction was held, and Apex was the winning bidder.
“We had no knowledge of the purchaser,” Pamela Atwater said. “If we had known, there wouldn’t have been anything we could have done about it.”
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