Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cape Vincent Planning board member Bob Brown addresses Richard Chandler, BP project developer.

 At the Special meeting at Recreation Park, Tuesday evening Planning Board Member Bob Brown addressed Richard Chandler, BP project developer.

Bob Brown: Mr. Chandler, thank you for coming tonight and giving us the little bit of information that you did .I assume you're here to answer some questions should we pose them.  

I would like to explain a little bit about what we have done in the past year with our zoning laws. Your advertisement, you say you've published. I've seen one of them that advertisement says Cape Vincent wind farm to achieve a win-win for the community and local economy .The only way we see a win-win is if you pay some significant attention to our new zoning law.

In January, the town board appointed a group of citizens from all over the town and charged us with looking at the existing zoning law. Obviously part of that was to address wind energy conversion systems.  Four attempts have been made in the past six years to write a wind addendum to the zoning law, each of these attempts ended in dismal failure because   of the attitude of conflicted interests. These attempts were carried out in a very controlled fashion; public input was not sought let alone encouraged, by the zoning law committee.  Under the guidance of Mr. Curtin established two irrevocable principles. 
Number one, the health the safety and welfare of the entire community, everybody, was Paramount. 
The second one, was all technical requirements, all technical requirements were established in concert with recognized experts in their field. These were not established based on emotion or anything else. They were based on expert technical, sound scientific knowledge and we do have the experts to back it up and we will bring them with us.
The zoning rewrite committee set up an operating method that encouraged public input, the well-publicized meetings wherein the paper, initially, they were then talked about at the town board meetings. The town knew we were having the meetings and everybody was invited to come.
 From January 17, to June 4, we met twice a week, two and half hours each time. The public was invited, the public was encouraged. During this entire time neither BP nor any of the identified leaseholders attended these meetings and contributed in any way toward the coverage of wind energy conversion systems.
 We set up a formalized method where people could write a comment or suggestion and we had them in a notebook, we still have them. 

There were no comments from anybody, on setbacks, anything related to turbines, setbacks noise vibration anything. Apparently, BP had gotten together leaseholders and said stay away from the process. To further encourage public participation the committee insisted on having a public comment session, before we submitted the draft to the town board and the public hearing. Again, we received no wind related comments from BP, or their leaseholders.

 Yes, we did receive a letter from you Mr. Chandler, dated June 27, and I'm going to try to quote the end of that letter. For parties interested in submitting applications to site wind energy projects in the town of Cape Vincent, the provisions contained in the proposed zoning law are unreasonably burdensome, in view of existing wind generating technologies and/ or the need of costs to ratepayers. We respectfully request the town reconsider the proposed zoning law, taking into account the above comments. 

Mr. Chandler, we appreciate your effort but you told us nothing. You did not make one suggestion on how you thought we could improve the law and make it more amenable to your needs. Again, we had the formal public hearing when the town was looking to pass a law on WECS wind energy conversion systems. Some of the leaseholders made comments on other sections but nothing having to do with wind. The result of these months of effort was a zoning law that contains many sections with requirements for industrial concerns that were similar to the types of requirements that were there for WECS.

 The law treats all of those concerns equally, independent of specific commercial business. So, if there is a sound requirement for turbines it's the same sound requirement as it is for a Quarry. We did not separate out wind turbines. Mr. Chandler, I was the chair of the zoning law a rewrite committee, we spent a good deal of effort revising our law. Our law very much reflects what our comprehensive plan says. The work resulted in a comprehensive zoning law that protects the health safety and welfare of the community. It is a just law, it does not discriminate against anyone entity, and this law is not up for grabs. 

Unless it can be demonstrated that a request fully complies with the health safety and welfare of our community, the request will not be considered. We believe this law is defensible under any review .

A couple of quick questions if I may please.

BP apparently decided they were not going to participate or their leaseholders participate in the law. And yet, in your PIP, in the last section you say that you want to talk to the towns and then decide what local laws and ordinances the siting board should not apply.

 It's illogical to expect the siting board to vacate a law that you and/or your leaseholders were offered the opportunity to participate in but declined to do so .Can you explain the logic of that Please?  How can you ask the siting board to vacate the Cape Vincent zoning law when you were given numerous opportunities to participate in the development of it?

Chandler: we are proposing a project that we believe the community supports, that can't happen, unless we have a community that supports it. We can't build a project on land that we don't control. We have an incredible amount of support from the community that is why we are  here, that is why we are  moving forward with this project.

 We have continued to engage with the community and the board over the past several years including this year, including over the summer months, time that we were spending on trying to optimize the layout that you see before you here. There was certainly uncertainty.

Planning board Chair Richard Macsherry: who did you talk to? Just out of curiosity, from either board.

Chandler: the response that we provided in the June, time frame was the best information that we had at the time to contribute to the  discussion that the town was having  regarding its draft zoning law. At the same time the Article 10 process was also in the draft format. Given the regulatory uncertainty regarding how to move forward with permitting, we were trying to give feedback in both of those processes, while trying to work on a revised layout of optimizing the two projects. So, only after getting a bit more clarity and certainty on where the town was going to end up with its zoning law in August time frame when that was passed and when the Article 10, process was passed in the August time frame as well, that we have enough certainty on what the options were, that we can use to take the project forward.

Bob Brown: Sir, you haven't answered my question .My question was,  you elected not to participate and  your leaseholders through you, elected not to participate in the development and writing of  this law.  How can you go to the state and say the law was no good ? You were given many opportunities to participate and we did it directly through the entire town.
 I think your proper response to Mr. Macsherry was that you worked with 4 or 5% of the town and assumed that they were going officially notify our board. Nobody did.

Chandler:  We, again we submitted a response in the June time frame.

Bob Brown: I read that last paragraph in that response sir, and it said nothing as far as being helpful to the writing of the law.

Chandler: we submitted a response in the time frame, to notify the board that we had seen the draft zoning law and we asked the town to reconsider because as drafted at that time, as currently drafted, we do believe that the requirements are unduly unreasonable, with respect to wind turbines

Bob Brown: what requirements?

Chandler: I'm not prepared to comment the specifics of that.  This forum is the opportunity to...

Attorney Curtin: I think Mr. Chandler has answered the questions to the best of his current ability, given the facts that he may have been provided by other parties. This is not, certainly not, an inquest or deposition, but that having been said and you’ve got additional questions please ask them.

Bob Brown: I won't take up any more time. Thank you Mr. Chandler.

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