Hopkinton wind proponents accuse group opposed to development of deception that swayed town board vote
HOPKINTON – The chairman of North Country for a Brighter Future claims that a local organization opposed to a proposed wind farm has been spreading misinformation in their attempt to keep turbines out of the town.
North Country for a Brighter Future (NCBF) is also challenging signatures on a petition opposed to turbines south of state Rt. 72.
NCBF is a grassroots organization formed to support the North Ridge Wind Farm. The group recently shared emails with Hopkinton Town Board members Steve Parker, Sue Lyons, and Gilbert Sochia, concerning the Concerned Citizens for Rural Preservation allegedly presenting unverified information that misrepresents the depth of their support, and using that information to advocate an anti-wind, anti-business platform to the town board, according to Frank Potenzano, chairman of North Country For a Brighter Future.
“It appears that some board members have based their votes on this faulty information,” he said. “The total of Hopkinton residents (referenced in the email) having signed post cards in support of the North Ridge project, gathered during our ongoing door-to-door outreach campaign, has since increased from 157 on March 19 to now stand at 205, and climbing.”
Potenzano says this clearly counters the opposition’s claim that they hold the majority opinion.
North Country for a Brighter Future has an issue with an alleged Concerned Citizens petition of at least 150 names of residents who apparently signed in agreement to oppose turbines south of SH 72.
The board agreed Feb. 27 to not extend the overlay zone following the petition opposing the expansion of the overlay zone closer to the Adirondack Park. Hopkinton Town Supervisor Susan Wood claimed all of the residents who signed the petition are either homeowners or taxpayers on land south of SH 72.
Potenzano disagrees with the validity of the signatures.
“Practicing reasonable due diligence, our review found this document to be a clear misrepresentation of the available data and that the claims should be disregarded,” Potenzano said. “Specifically, approximately 9 percent of the names are suspect, only 40 percent specifically live or own property south of NY 72 and within the town board’s wind overlay zone, and 13 percent own land located further south within the Adirondack Park … further, 32 percent own mostly seasonal property located to the southeast over 5 miles from the nearest turbine proposed south of NY 72.”
Potenzano claims the board’s decision was made with incorrect information.
“Based on misinformation, at the February 27 working session some council members reversed positions to then oppose turbines located south of NY 72 which allowed for a majority vote to restrict the wind overlay zone to north of NY 72 in the proposed local law subject to the hearing on March 28.”
Among other claims Potenzano makes in his email against CCRP and board members are:
• “Without identifying the supporting documents, the CCRP representative also claimed at the February 12th meeting that 353 residents and property owners were opposed to the North Ridge project, a total we believe represents double counting across various ‘petitions’ or post card submittals. Our review of the 159 names on opposition post cards posted to the project’s DPS webpage by March 9th found that near 50% were also listed on the ‘Signed South of 72 Petitions’ document. We suspect this to be the case of documentation submitted to the Town Board as well. We find this unacceptable.
• “CCRP has also submitted a tabular document to the Town Board titled ‘Moratorium/PILOT Petition’ purporting to list 819 names of people from Hopkinton and neighboring communities against a PILOT, for a Moratorium or both. Again, CCRP has not produced the supporting narrative, nor was the narrative or signatures requested by the board. Of interest, we found that only 166 on the list were registered Hopkinton voters. Of further significance, neither choice should reflect opposition to the project, but in fact, highlights the need for further public outreach, knowledge transfer, and the importance of jumpstarting the negotiations between the tax jurisdictions and Avangrid to address and finally answer the PILOT versus full-valuation question.
• “The Town Board had not been told by Supervisor Sue Wood about her receipt on February 26th of over 75 postcards from Hopkinton residents (now topping 180) expressing support for the town and Avangrid to thoroughly explore all options before making any decisions that could limit the town’s ability to benefit from this project. Proceed with misinformation and the project and benefits will not move forward.
• “Sue Wood received these cards and yet did not inform council members Sue Lyon, Steve Parker and Gilbert Sochia of this new information for consideration. She stated a need to verify the post cards as accurate before releasing them. However, the cards were in the hands of Janice Pease (anti-wind) and published on Facebook at 5:11 PM, an hour and 19 minutes before the Town Board’s February 27th working session. Sue Wood didn’t provide an answer at the March 19th Town Board meeting as to how Janice Pease got her hands on them other than to shrug her shoulders.
• “Also at the February 27th meeting, council-member Kelly Pullano publically misrepresented a conversation she had on February 5th with Town of Bellmont Supervisor Bruce Russell, which she used to support the project-restrictive sound and setback standards proposed by the Wind Advisory Board. Of significance, Ms. Pullano did not obtain Supervisor’s Russell’s permission to place her interpretation of the conversation in the public record. Supervisor Russell responded by email to the Town Board members on March 13th to take the opportunity to set the record straight regarding the conversation.
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