We Have the Right

Ecogen Wind LLC's lawsuit claims the town of Italy, Yates County, delayed a decision on its industrial wind development proposal since 2002 and now can't deny its application (Nov. 5 story). In reality, Ecogen caused this long, drawn-out, expensive process by refusing to accept the town's original decision to remain non-industrial. A 2006 zoning law prohibiting industrial turbines, two town-wide surveys and several public hearings on this issue demonstrated that Italy wants to preserve its major strengths — natural beauty and a peaceful rural character. It was Ecogen's lawsuit threats and unrelenting pressure on the Town Board that led to a reluctantly made zoning law revision, application review and final denial.

Evidence submitted by citizens overwhelmingly showed that the short setbacks and high noise levels required to fit Ecogen's massive facility among our homes could damage Italy residents' welfare, property values, health and safety. Cohocton's experience with industrial wind turbines has been a nightmare and a learning experience. Recent elections in Italy and Prattsburgh clearly showed the people's choice to remain turbine-free.

We should have the right to say "no."

—Joan Simmons, Italy, Yates County

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Shout it from the hilltops!

Merry Christmas from the Morehouses!

We deeply appreciate all your encouragement and look forward to working for a better future together with you in the coming year.



The "W" in Christmas

Each December I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations - extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments and, of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son Nicholas was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six-year-old. For weeks he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant." I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher...

Click here to read the whole story.

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VN 7/3 - Independence

Last week our Town Planning Board met "to continue with its review and consideration of the special use permits, site plan applications and the FEIS [Final Environmental Impact Statement] which have been submitted by Canandaigua Power Partners…" In the preceding public comment period, explicitly focused only on UPC's application for three more 250-foot test towers, Paul Wolcott gave the 80 Cohocton citizens assembled a brief lecture on representative government.

How did our leaders express representative government?

In true Tory style, Planning Board Chair Ray Schrader disallowed any further comment, stood up and read a long prepared legal resolution to the group, received a unanimous vote of approval from his Board for UPC Wind's FEIS - a document that included final revisions none of them had even seen yet, and then closed the meeting.

Where is our representation? I asked Ray after the meeting about our concerns and the pending Supreme Court case. He told me that Jack Zigenfus had instructed him to ignore them. Councilman Wayne Hunt has told us that their project will be going through "unless there is a Court injunction against it." So much for representation and the rule of law. Power and money are in control. Hungry for a truly independent point of view? Read our personal letter to the gentlemen named above, pray with us for justice, and then let your voice be heard!

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The Law - Letter or Spirit?

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church millenia ago he compared and contrasted two approaches to life - trying to live according the letter of the law or seeking to follow after its spirit or intent. In Paul's estimation, the first way led to death while the second led to life. Of course he was referring to the Biblical law, which is righteous in both its letter and intent, not to many of our human laws which are corrupt in both.

What law do we say we are following in Cohocton? When it comes to windmills, the law cited is Local Law #2 (LL#2), enacted by our Town Board in late 2006. Serious questions have been raised about its "letter", which UPC Wind and its supporters are using as their guide. But what about the spirit or intent of this Law? According to a recent NY Department of State publication about the functions of a Zoning Board of Appeals,

A zoning law is a community's guide to its future development. That is its purpose. It is not meant to be just another governmental intrusion, another bit of red tape to be untangled before the property owner can go ahead with his plans. The protections afforded residents and property owners within the community from undesirable development come from the restrictiveness of zoning. Traditionally, zoning is characterized by pre-set regulations contained in the ordinance or local law, and applicable uniformly within each district. A landowner can look at the zoning map and regulations and know that if he follows them, he has a right to use his land in a certain way, and that neighboring property is subject to the same restrictions. But, because all land in the district is subject to the same rules, and because no two parcels of land are precisely the same, problems can arise.

Can a landowner do anything they wish on their own land? Not if the very purpose of zoning is respected. Was LL#2 written with the proper intent in mind? Patently not. The clear purpose of LL#2 was to permit and promote a preconceived wind power project that was already nearly fully developed by UPC Wind well prior to the enactment of the law. Setting aside the provisions of Cohocton's master zoning plan, our Town leaders passed a law with setbacks that were obviously designed to accommodate the desires of a specific developer, not to protect the legitimate interests of surrounding landowners.

Thus, while following the letter of LL#2 will definitely lead to contention and loss of community life, even following the spirit of laws like this won't produce a good result. Want to drive one of your town's judges to curse his neighbors at a public meeting? Just pass an unrighteous law and then rile your community up by riding it into the ground. If you want to make sure you get bad results, mix in some political manipulation that actually twists and breaks other laws along the way and then challenge your fellow-citizens to bring you to court. Brothers and sisters, there must be a better way.

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