Majority Shifts; 3-2 Votes
By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
RICHFIELD SPRINGS – At the Richfield Town Board’s two-hour reorganizational meeting this morning, the shoe was now on the other foot.
Where Town Board member Larry Frigault’s 3-2 majority was in control through Dec. 31, the control shifted today to newly elected Town Supervisor Nick Palevsky and his allies, Town Board members Fred Eckler and newly elected Ed Bello Jr.
From 9 a.m., when the meeting started, to just past 11, where 43 motions were mostly approved, 3-2, several over Frigault’s objections. Town Board member Rex Seamon allied with Frigault.
Key among the motions was one that could throw out the town’s new zoning code – approved 3-2 in October by the Frigault faction – based on a disputed new Comprehensive Master Plan that led to the new majority’s election Nov. 5.
Anti-Windmill Faction Plans Vote
RICHFIELD SPRINGS – A showdown is expected this evening between two factions on the Richfield Town Board when a vote is due on a comprehensive plan and zoning code that grew out of the opposition to the the Monticello Hills Wind Farm.
The board meets at 7 p.m. in the Richfield Springs Central School cafeteria.
Fate Uncertain In Richfield Over Divisive Comp Plan 3 Wind-Farm Opponents Seeking To Push Vote Through, But Election Could Erase It
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
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.
from PATRICK DOYLE
To the Editor:
This letter is in response to your March 20 article on the process to develop new zoning in Richfield, “Petition Drive in Offing,” and a follow-up letter from Larry Frigault, Richfield Town Board member.
To recap, the March 20 article highlighted concerns that the proposed zoning for Richfield would limit business in the town. The article also wondered if, with “windmill foes” and their allies now in control of “the whole apparatus of the Richfield town government,” the new zoning might pass.
What the March 20 article WASN’T about was the new Richfield Comprehensive Plan, but Larry raised the Comp Plan in his letter. Let’s note of what Larry said about the Comp Plan: It was created by a large group of volunteers (14 in total) working with professional guidance. Contrary to what Larry stated, however, there were limits on who could be on the Comp Plan Committee.
from LARRY FRIGAULT
To the Editor:
I read with disbelief the factual errors, insinuations and conclusions put forth in this past week’s edition concerning the Town of Richfield’s governance. I have only been on the Town Board two years, hardly enough time to “take over” anything as implied.
A fundamental rule of democracy is the voters get to decide who best represents them. I ran openly advocating for a Comprehensive Plan and the corresponding update to our land-use law to support it.
Everyone would know I opposed the industrial wind project.
I support people who support the goals of putting the town and village in a strong position to economically expand using the principals of Smart Growth which allow us to expand our economic base while maintaining the character of our community, all in an environmentally sensitive way.
This is exactly what our award-winning Joint Comprehensive Plan promotes.
The Comprehensive Plan was created by a group of volunteers with professional guidance. There was no selection process for this committee. If you wanted on the committee, you were allowed on, hardly a takeover.
It’s true many people now involved gained a new appreciation of why they needed to get involved after our Planning Board, led by Don Urtz, voted to approve the Monticello Hills industrial wind project. Our current law should have protected us and didn’t.
The industrial wind permit approval happened over the objections of a majority of the residents who would actually live among the machines. Over 200 people signed a petition specifically stating they objected to the project because of the negative effects it could bring – an important fact ignored by most of the Planning Board.
Most of the Planning Board at the time also ignored landowner agreements between some of the project neighbors and the wind developer which contained specific easements for the negative effects the wind project could inflict.
These negative effects are specifically named in the current ordinance as the reason why the permit should have been denied. When people realized their health, safety, value of their property, and the “right to quiet enjoyment of their property” were not being protected, they got motivated.
Many voted and some took positions as they became available. While true, many residents currently serving on the various boards recognize the issues which come with industrial wind, this has not been a sudden, hidden agenda.
It is a disrespectful insinuation that these individuals are only participating to stop wind. They are independent, intelligent, hardworking people who want to see Richfield prosper and recognize the current ordinance hinders that goal instead of fostering it.
Using industrial wind to frame the updated ordinance is disgraceful.
Town Board member
Town of Richfield