By JIM KEVLIN• Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
RICHFIELD SPRINGS – The action now moved to Nov. 5, Election Day.
Monday, Sept. 30, after two somewhat acrimonious hours of discussion, the Richfield Town Board, 3-2, approved a new zoning code that bans wind turbines and defines most of the town as agricultural/residential.
Voting aye were three opponents of the Monticello Hills Wind Farm, Larry Frigault, Rex Seamon and Kane Seamon. Voting nay were Supervisor Paul Palumbo, who isn’t running again, and Fred Eckler. All was as expected.
In remarks before the vote, Palumbo mentioned a figure, “35 days,” the time until the Nov. 5 election, questioning why Frigault and the two Seamons were in “a race to the finish.” He added, “I think we all know the intent.”
Richfield is a Republican town, and Nov. 5 the GOP ticket – former supervisor Nick Palevsky, who is running for the job again, and Ed Bello Jr., who beat Kane Seamon in the Republican primary June – are expected to emerge victorious.
That would shift the balance of power on the town board against the comp plan and zoning code, which emerged from a three-year process where, some say, the anti-turbine Protect Richfield organization seized control.
With another 3-2 vote, Palevsky and Bello, along with Eckler, could set in motion a new revision of the comp plan and code to make them less restrictive. Frigault and Rex Seamon would find themselves in the minority.
At a public hearing on the code Monday the 23rd, Palevsky presented petitions he said represented owners of 30 percent of the land in the town. If that was the case, it would have required “super-majority” approval of the zoning code, four votes instead of three.
The zoning code would have been rejected.
But Monday the 30th, Town Attorney Michelle Kennedy reported she had spent the week in the county clerk’s office in Cooperstown, reviewing deeds of all the signators.
In five categories, she concluded the signatures were invalid. In some cases, signators did not own the property. In others, where land was held in “tenancy in common,” not all owners had signed, she said. (Palevsky later contended some of the non-signing owners are dead.) Where LLCs were involved, no board resolutions were presented.
She pared down 3,800 acres Palevsky said were represented in the petitions to about 2,200, and the town board ruled the petitions invalid.
The morning, Palevsky took issue with the word “overturn” to refer to what a board he controlled might do. “Revisit is a better term,” he said.’
He said he is also reviewing Kennedy’s “sufficiency test” for errors.