Court ruling could send wind project back to square one

Eric Monnat

A group opposed to Jordanville Wind LLC building a wind farm in the towns of Warren and Stark has won an Article 78 lawsuit against the towns, which could make the process start from scratch and at least delay the farm from being built.

The attorney representing both towns in regards to the wind project, Bernard Melewski, said New York Supreme Court found the towns failed to comply with the law, Article 78.

Article 78 is used to contest actions by state and local government agencies and officers according to

The lawsuit was brought upon the towns by the Advocates of Stark group, according to member Sue Brander, but she wanted to wait on commenting until after reviewing the court's decision.

The advocates group contends the towns committed a procedural State Environmental Quality Review Act error and violated the Open Meetings Law, along with some other infractions.

Melewski, who is with the law firm Ulasewicz, Melewski and Greenwood LLP, which is based in Saratoga, said the decision leaves the towns with the choice of redoing the project application, filing an appeal or both.

Melewski went to state Supreme Court in Syracuse on Dec. 7 for the hearing with Judge Donald A. Greenwood and left feeling optimistic about the town's chances.

“The decision comes as a surprise,” said Melewski.

Melewski learned about the decision from a posting on a legal service and hasn't received an official notice yet, but he expects to receive the notice very soon.

Once he receives the notice, the towns will have 30 days to file an appeal, which Melewski will recommend to both towns.

“I haven't had the opportunity to talk to all the clients yet,” said Melewski. “I'm sure they will file an appeal.”

Stark Supervisor Richard Bronner said the towns disagree with the ruling but said he would delay making a comment until he can review the case.

Melewski said he will continue to look at the details of the case in the meantime.

“This is quite the economic blow to the towns, it will push the project back substantially,” said Melewski.

This lawsuit is the latest setback for the windfarms. In August, the state Department of Public Service scaled back the project from 68 turbines down to 49 because the turbines could have an “adverse impact” on the Glimmerglass Historic District according to the DPS report.

The original plan called for the towns of Stark and Warren to get 34 turbines. The revised plan called for Stark will get 26 and Warren will get 23.

At the time, Bronner said the loss the eight turbines in Stark would result in the loss of $80,000 in revenue over a 15 year period.