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Hopkinton councilwoman-elect questions town supervisor about meeting with wind company officials

HOPKINTON – Town councilwoman-elect Kelly Pullano confronted the town supervisor about having meetings alone with wind company officials at the town office.

Pullano was dropping a key off at the town office on Dec. 4 when Avangrid Renewables officials Scott McDonald and Dan Murdie pulled in the parking lot to visit with Town Supervisor Susan Wood.

Wood said she meets with a variety of people during her regular office hours, including with wind company officials. She said her role as supervisor allows her to have discussions with Avangrid officials alone, and that other board members could do the same.

She said conversations range from family to the proposed wind towers. Avangrid plans to erect 40 wind towers that are about 500 feet high on land in Hopkinton and Parishville.

“They feel I am not being transparent,” Wood said about those who questioned the meetings.

On this particular day, Wood said wind officials were checking up on the status of an appraisal of land to be used for wind turbines. St. Lawrence County, Parishville-Hopkinton Central and the Towns of Hopkinton and Parishville are seeking appraisals to compare against a PILOT agreement.

Pullano says Wood offered a different answer at the Dec. 18 town board meeting.

“I inquired to Supervisor Wood as to the context of an evening December meeting she had at her office with two Avangrid representatives,” Pullano said. “Mrs. Wood replied that the meeting did not pertain to wind issues and she did not recall what the context was.”

Pullano did add that she thought Wood might have been nervous when asked publically about the situation.

Pullano said Wood was then asked whether it was acceptable to meet with Avangrid officials without the public’s knowledge and she replied that she or any other councilmember can meet with Avangrid and discuss issues at their discretion.

“I feel that for routine issues that may be true – but for unique issues that have divided the community then additional transparency is required and all meetings with Avangrid should have more representation beyond one council member,” Pullano said.

Wood said Avangrid officials are not making special trips to the area just to meet with her. They have an office at the old Silver Café in Parishville.

“I meet with a lot of people – I don’t know when they will stop in,” Wood said.

“I have ideas about how to make this process more transparent and look forward to working with the community and Supervisor Wood on making this process more open and efficient,” Pullano said.

Some in the community asked for conversations to be recorded and Wood says that is not feasible because she would need to record conversations with anyone who came into her office.

Pullano said she believes a logbook should be kept at the town office with information about who comes into the office and what conversations were had.

Wood said Avangrid officials are also still waiting to hear about Hopkinton’s wind law which has not been finalized.

As of now the law calls for sound decibel limit of 40 dBA night and day and 2,500-foot setbacks from a residence of a non-participating landowner. The law will also address the wind overlay zone which could see wind towers places south of SH 72 closer to the Adirondack Park. This has caused dissension among many in the North Country.

Four councilmembers will vote on the wind law as Councilman Gilbert Sochia is abstaining due to a conflict of interest because a member of his family is a leaseholder with Avangrid.

Wood said she wanted to allow time for Pullano to review the wind law before a vote will take place. She also said she “absolutely” can have a working relationship with Pullano who has “shown an interest in what is going on in Hopkinton.”