Fate Uncertain In Richfield Over Divisive Comp Plan 3 Wind-Farm Opponents Seeking To Push Vote Through, But Election Could Erase It

Fate Of Richfield’s

Divisive Comp Plan

Uncertain For Now

3 Wind-Farm Opponents Seeking To Push

Vote Through, But Election Could Erase It

At the start of this evening’s hearing, Richfield Town Supervisor Paul Palumbo, center, reads a statement of his position on the comp plan and zoning code. He asked town board members to do the same. Fred Eckler (tan shirt), Palumbo’s ally did, but the other three board members, from left, Rex Seamon, Larry Frigault and Kane Seamon, did not. At right is Town Clerk Maggie Young. (Jim Kevlin /AllOTSEGO.com)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

At tonight’s hearing, town supervisor candidate Nick Palevsky said, “I call on the town board to suspend this public hearing and delay next week’s vote.”

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – The fat’s on the fire in the Town of Richfield, and may be until a new town board is installed after Jan. 1.

About 70 people descended on the RSCS cafeteria this evening for two hours of polite but divided opinion on a new comprehensive plan and associated zoning code.  Some say the plan and code were developed by West End neighbors to block the five-turbine Monticello Hills Wind Farms, and that the resulting documents are too restrictive.

About 20 people spoke. Then the action began.

Hearing over, a town board meeting was called to order, and it surfaced that three West End allies – Council members Larry Frigault, Rex Seamon and Kane Seamon – have scheduled a meeting for 7 p.m. next Monday, Sept. 30, to push through a vote on the new law and code before the Nov. 5 election, when they may lose their majority.

David Simonds, who is contending with Palevsky for the town’s top job, urged the town board to stop arguing and approve the plan and code. Squabbling in the town causes outsiders to say, “Take off the ‘R’ and put a ‘B’ there,” he said.

It further surfaced that, as required by state law, the county Planning Department had submitted inputs on the plan and code; after a 30-day waiting period, next Monday is the first day the town board can act.

But Town Board member Fred Eckler declared that while the letter from county Planning Director Karen Sullivan had been in the hands of Frigault and the Seamons for a few weeks, “We hadn’t seen them until today.”

Eckler, who with Town Supervisor Paul Palumbo favored further study and revision of the plan and code, then  made a motion that next week’s meeting be spent assessing the county inputs, adjusting the documents, then voting on them at a later date.

Palumbo seconded Eckler’s motion, but Frigault and the two Seamons voted it down.

Then Palumbo, who isn’t running again Nov. 5, announced that town supervisor candidate Nick Palevsky had submitted a petition signed by property owners of 25 percent of acreage included in the zoning change.  (Palevsky said he’d gotten 30 percent.)

If the petition is found valid, a 4-1 vote would be required, meaning Palumbo and Eckler could block approval.

Seventy-some citizens attended this evening’s hearing, politely offering views on both sides of the issue.

Palumbo asked Frigault to contact Town Attorney Michelle Kennedy to be on hand to review the petitions’ validity.  Frigault appeared surprised.  Palumbo said “she doesn’t communicate with us,” himself or Eckler. So Frigault assented to make the call.

(Asked about it after the meeting, Town Attorney Michelle Kennedy said any conversations with town board members are covered by “attorney-client privilege.”  However, without discussing the Richfield situation in particular, Kennedy said, she is “responsive” to town board members in all the towns she represents.)

So as it stood at evening’s end, a vote is still scheduled on the comp plan and code next Monday, without discussing Karen Sullivan’s inputs.

Interviewed on the sidewalk in front of RSCS, Palevsky said, as he understands the law, the town must conduct a “sufficiency test” to determine if the petitions are valid.

If Frigault and the Seamons approve the plan and code next Monday, 3-2, and the petitions are then found “sufficient,” the first vote would be invalid and a second one required.

Ed Bello Jr., who is running for town board on a ticket with Palevsky and Eckler, said the plan and code need “fine-tuning.” As is, the document “will only serve to increase the mass exodus of our children.”

But there’s another twist: The Nov. 5 election may make a second vote moot, Palevsky said.

He, Eckler and Ed Bello Jr. are running on the Republican line for supervisor and two town board seats.

David Simonds, Foursquare Gospel Church pastor, is running for supervisor on the FRD line, and Kane Seamon is seeking reelection on the LIB line.

If the Palevsky-Eckler-Bello ticket is elected, it has the three votes necessary to overturn the comp plan and zoning code, regardless of whether the petitions are ruled valid.

“We’re not going to enforce a law we don’t agree with,” Palevsky said.

One thought on “Fate Uncertain In Richfield Over Divisive Comp Plan 3 Wind-Farm Opponents Seeking To Push Vote Through, But Election Could Erase It

  1. Pauline Lynch

    My husband And I attended the town board meeting last night. I have to kind of wonder what the big problem is. Everyone on the board agrees that the new plan is not perfect. So put off voting on this &
    find out how to better it to benefit everyone not just a certain few. Also when asked for the boards opinion or input on the new plan only 2 responded. The other 3 declined. As a tax payer I think we deserve to hear their opinion. What is there to hide? We are the ones that elected them. If those 3 don’t think we deserve a response from them, then I don’t think they deserve to be on the board. Some one made a comment about the many hours that was put in coming up with this new plan. I am sure that is true. However it does not matter if it is 1 hour or 1000 hours. If something is wrong, fix it now. Don’t wait until this plan is passed. Changing or amending issues after the fact is very expensive to the tax payers. I think that with election right around the corner that we take all of this into consideration.

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