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Project Manager: Wind Turbine Project is not over

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

RICHFIELD, N.Y. (WKTV) - Acting Supreme Court Justice Donald Cerio, Jr. has recently annulled a Special Use Permit issued by the Town of Richfield to a developer to build six wind turbines in the town. While some people against the turbines being built are happy with this ruling, the developer, Monticello Hills, LLC says this decision is in no way putting a stop to the project.

Monticello Hills was set to construct six 492 ft wind turbines in the western portion of Richfield.

A group of 34 petitioners brought the lawsuit before the judge, prompting him to void the Special Use Permit given to Monticello Hills in November to build, citing procedural violations with the town's planning board.

Petitioners were pleased with the judge's ruling, saying Tuesday it brings the Town Planning Board and developer "back to square one."

"This is great news for the first time in almost a year we're able to sleep good because this project is not there," says one of the head petitioners of the project Larry Frigault.

However, Project Manager Owen Grant stresses the decision does not put an end to the wind development.

"We're committed to the project," said Grant. "We're talking about six turbines which is a little smaller in scope than some of the other projects, we're connecting to a medium voltage line which serves the surrounding communities so we think that this project is a good one and we look forward to continuing."

The petitioners say they would like the town of Richfield to enter into a moratorium to stop any turbines from being built. They feel the development would decrease property values and scenic views and be harmful to nearby residents' health and the environment.

Speaking on behalf of Monticello Hills, Grant says he's actually encouraged by the judge's decision, supporting the wind turbine project in a majority of the lawsuit's claims.

Of the 16 claims, the judge sided with the wind turbine project in 13. In three, the judge agreed with the petitioners that the Town of Richfield Planning Board violated procedural laws including the Freedom of Information Law and Open Meeting Law.

In addition to annulling the permit, Judge Cerio ordered the Town of Richfield Planning Board to attend training by the Committee on Open Government.

Project Manager Owen Grant says there is no meeting set with the town's planning board, he plans to continue to read through all the details of the judge's decision to determine the next and best course of action with the project.

Both the developer and petitioners agree that the wind turbines will be an ongoing battle.

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