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Burke Town Board approves amended wind tower regulations despite continued opposition

BURKE – A procedural correction for Burke’s amended wind law has further agitated some of the amended law’s opponents.

Several town residents attended a special meeting of the Burke Town Board Wednesday evening, including supporters of Burke Friends against Rural Mismanagement (FARM).

Three members of the Town Board re-approved the amended wind law, which increases the maximum height for wind turbines from 500 feet to 725 feet, with a corresponding increase in road setbacks.

Town Supervisor Bill Wood and Town Board member Arnold Lobdell once again abstained from voting due to a conflict of interest; before the vote, Wood ceded control of the meeting to Deputy Supervisor James Otis to further avoid conflict.

The second vote was needed to include sections of an environmental impact study on the amended law’s effects, with paperwork provided by the town’s wind law attorney, Brian Stewart. Stewart was absent from the previous meeting where the Town Board voted to approve the law.

Several opponents of the amended law voiced complaints that they were not able to see the paperwork before the vote. Board member Timothy Crippen replied that there is no functional change in the amended law, as the vote focused on paperwork that was missing from the last time.

Opponents such as resident Albert Johnson, a former town supervisor, still asserted that the amended wind law was improper. Johnson claimed that a longer environmental impact study was necessary for the law to be legal. He further asserted that some study questions were answered untruthfully – particularly about the proximity of some planned tower locations to a “state or national historical site” such as the Almanzo Wilder Homestead or the absence of a threat to nearby wetlands.

Johnson and other asserted that they would be filing Article 78 proceedings to challenge the legality of the amended wind law; Stewart replied that he was aware of and planning for the intended challenge.

The tense discussion on Wednesday is the latest in a series of meetings where both supporters and opponents of the amended wind law have been vocal about their position to town officials.