Hartsville board OK’s getting second opinion on wind law

Bob Clark

Will Hartsville town officials be able to negotiate a good compensation package from wind developers?

That’s the question Hartsville town Supervisor Steve Dombert has, and he wants a second opinion.

Dombert said at Wednesday night’s board meeting the town needs to find out the status of its bargaining position with German wind developer E.On. To do so, he proposed sending the town’s 2006 wind law to Gary Abraham, an Olean area-based environmental attorney, who has experience with environmental groups and wind companies.

He added the cost for Abraham to review the law and meet with the board will cost between $500 and $1,000.

Dombert said he is not sure what power the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency, the lead agency on the project, has to negotiate on the town’s part for the project, and what recourse the town has to get a better deal.

Currently, he said, the town will receive around 12 percent of a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement, while absorbing the bulk of the negative impacts.

“The lion’s share is going elsewhere,” he said, adding he also is unsure what the town can expect from E.On in terms of a community host agreement, money paid directly to the town to compensate for the project.

Board member Jim Perry added a second opinion could be useful, and if the cost helps the town get more money from E.On, then it should be investigated.

“For a second opinion, I don’t see why I can’t not go along with this,” he said.

Two board members — Benjamin Ray and Michele Herrneckar — were opposed to the measure.

“I think we should be focusing on our negotiations with the IDA,” Herrneckar said. “We spent good money getting this law in place.”

Former town Supervisor George Prior said the local law is sound and offers the town plenty of negotiating leverage.

“You will negotiate directly with the developer for what used to be road mitigation,” he said. “That’s where your chips lay.”

Dombert replied the measure may not be enough.

“That doesn’t sound like much (leverage) to me at all,” he said.

Prior also mentioned getting a lawyer involved in the process could open the town up to a lawsuit of some kind.

The Evening Tribune