Town of Sanford Board Meetings
These minutes are not from a recording and are only what I was able to quickly jot down. I have used initials of speakers since I don't always catch their name. Anything in italics is my comment.
11 June 2019
Present: Lance Ditewig, Nick Cortese, Ken Wist, JD Seymour, Alice Ray, Dewey Decker, Jay Vandermark, Alison Lang
Oquaga Lake Report: Scott was unable to attend
At beginning of meeting someone in audience asked for a copy of the agenda so the board couldn't say something was on the agenda then, "come back to the table and vote on it" after the public had left.
Pete Hathaway, Code Enforcement: spoke about some violation on Old Plank Road, a DEC violation of code, and a code violation on Rt. 41.
George Lang and Larry Hoell were reinstated on the planning board.
Public Comment Opened by Nick Cortese, he then stated that on June 12th the Planning Board would be looking at the wind law again. The board had made some further recommendations and are sending it back to planning. He told the audience that if they wanted a copy of the law to see Alison and fill out a request for information. Calpine will also be at Windsor's town board meeting on June 12th.
CA: Calpine lies. He has spent a good deal of time researching online. He found the national renewable energy wind speeds and our area of NY does not have the necessary wind speed to power these turbines. See Map
(The average annual wind in the Sanford area appears to be under 5 meters / second (around 10 miles / hour. This is the absolute minimum that might be enough to turn a turbine. As I type this we are in the middle of a storm and the wind is blowing quite hard, I checked the current wind speed on line it is 8 mph. NOT enough to turn a turbine! One guess where the highest current wind speeds in the state are . . . Long Island!)
CA went on to talk about the ecological story behind turbines: that the rare Earth minerals come from China where people are dying from the effects of pollution caused by the greed of corporations taking their natural resources. He said, "This is a complete scam no matter how you look at it. "We pay twice: as electric bills go up and these things are less than 35% efficient, they only exist because of subsidies. Remember Calpine went bankrupt in 2005."
AL: Implores Dewey not to make this his legacy, and promises that we will not let this continue. She feels that the board is selling us, the public, out. Opponents far out number those in favor. She asks Dewey if he thinks he might have made a mistake and asks how we can get out of this if he can't admit his error. She calls for a moratorium. With the Article 10 hearings starting next month, we've been doing the board's job by doing the research and asking questions. We will experience a loss of tourism, property value declines. She reminded Dewey that he said last month that he is afraid of getting sued by Calpine, she told him that he can't get sued for doing his job to protect the residents and that he is allowing the community to be ripped apart.
T?: Has many concerns about the project: property value, health, there will only be seven permanent jobs and these won't be local people. Asks the board why young people would come here with the turbines ruining the area. Is concerned about fire and EMS response. Dewey responded that no local fire fighters are trained to handle the potential emergencies at the turbines.
"Receptor #99": She will have five turbines less than 3/4 miles from her home. She can't imagine the amount of noise she will experience from construction and operation. She says that NYSERDA says the amount of noise allowable should be under 35 dBA but the town is allowing 45. Low frequency sound is another problem the maximum should not exceed 35 dBA. What about the beacon lights to comply with FAA regulations, constant flashing red and white lights. She was told she should expect 195 hours of flicker per year because of the number of turbines surrounding her. The company's answer was that she should sign a good neighbor agreement to be financially compensated for her losses.
(In fact if she signs a good neighbor agreement she can't complain about the intrusion because she accepted money in exchange for silence.)
?D: Thanks Deposit for being friendly. Came here to retire and the turbines will destroy that. Has experienced turbines and they are awful.
?: (claims to be an environmentalist) agrees that the turbines should not be located near homes, but the good of the many outweighs the good of the few. Went on a rambling talk about fracking.
DB: Lives on Rt. 41, asks Dewey to explain the joint proposal that Calpine asked him to sign. Dewey shuffled some papers and said he had it right there. He charged an audience member with explaining it, she countered with the statement that she wants to know if he has read and understands the proposal. Then Dewey said he decided not to sign it.
A?: says he supports Dewey and the board and says he won't take Dewey to court.
J?: Deer Lake has questions about Alice Ray's appointment and her suitability to be a board member and asks Nick Cortese about the dinner for lease holders, hosted by his family's restaurant. Nick insists that he knew nothing about it and that he has no involvement in the restaurant.
BD: has lived here four years and is from Oregon. Asks how agricultural land could possibly be rezoned to allow for turbines. Asks where the environmental impact statements are. Dewey said the EIS were done, so this young man asks Dewey to summarize them for the public. Dewey of course couldn't do that. He went on to say that the board is giving up on the possibility of any future farms here by changing the zoning from agricultural to industrial. He asked for an analysis of property value impacts; Dewey had no answer. He reminds the board that they said there would only be seven permanent jobs. If more than seven property owners are affected that's not a fair exchange.
JM: We will be here at meetings until this is stopped. NYC destroyed Cannonsville, no wonder people are against this. She came here for a new lifestyle has been here 41 years, she loves the small town atmosphere. Calpine is destroying that. There is nothing good about this project, they are using Sanford as guinea pigs.
JD: thanks the board for contacting Madison, then made a few misleading statements about how happy Madison is to have turbines. (A few moments of internet research, instead of listening to the board's opinion, shows the complete opposite of this.)
?: How many people have to come here and talk before you listen? We are going to lose out on our quiet enjoyment. Will you vote for a moratorium, when so many have asked you for that? If you aren't listening to the people of Sanford, who are you listening to? Are you under pressure from Calpine? Dewey said he sent amendments to the wind law to the planning board, come to the next meeting for answers.
J B: Why didn't Dewey tell her a wind turbine would be less than 2000 feet from her new house when they applied for a building permit. This will affect her property value. She asks that Alice Ray be taken off the board.
TL: Concerned about property values. The laborers that were at the last meeting want jobs at the expense of local property values. He attended the August 14 2019 meeting and the board went into closed session. He filed a FOIA request for that session that has been ignored. He asked about the property assessment when a turbine is on the property. Are these landowners with turbines still going to be taxed at the agricultural rate? They should be taxed for industrial development.
JD: had questions about the restaurant, Cortese, hosting the dinner for lease holders and finds it hard to believe Nick had no knowledge of it. He asks if Nick thinks he can be an effective attorney for the town when he seems to be representing Calpine. Nick responded that he has no connection with the restaurant but JD says, you have to admit the optics are bad. Then began to asks about the hours of operation for Calpine in the construction phase and are there any restrictions on when they can work. The board's response was that they were told Calpine would work from 7 am to 8 pm, seven days a week.
(At least when Bluestone pipeline was put in they worked approximately 7 am to 5 pm and not on Sundays so we could look forward to a little bit of peace at the end of the day. I can tell you that at 5 pm when they quit for the day it was a joy, until they started in again the next day)
Dewey mentioned that he feels they have a good road use agreement.
(Well then why didn't he restrict the times of day they could be on the road so the residents could have a little time to enjoy their property?)
(I should state that by this time, it was so hot in the room, and I had been standing in the back for so long, it was becoming extremely difficult to concentrate on the proceedings. I apologize for the brief notes here.)
?: There will be seven turbines around Deer Lake, those residents will all suffer.
?: Asks how people get on the board. Nick explained the process
BB: Has no confidence in the board. This was pushed forward without suitable public comment, requests a moratorium and that Dewey and the board all step down.
JM: Deposit residents don't show up at meetings. Admonishes the board that they have successfully divided the town. Calpine has caused him to go out into the community and meet his neighbors, only good that has come of this. Many of Calpines comments on the DPS website are redacted. Calpine are modern day carpet baggers, only in it for the money. They have bought people's free speech.
KM: has considered many ideas of the people writing comments into the DPS website. He says Nick's job is only to advise the board as to the legality of their actions, not take a side on this. He vouches for Alice Ray, mentions that the tiny legal notice about the zoning changes in the Courier should have been enough (since that is the minimum that is legally required). He said some of the testimony on the DPS website amounts to character assassination.
Nick closed public comments
Additional board business
Approve minutes of last meeting
The Courier Editor asked if that was only the regular May meeting or included the special meeting held on June 4th. Allison Lang responded that the special meeting was "only last week" and the "minutes weren't done yet". (I couldn't believe that was her answer to a person responsible for getting out an entire newspaper every week. )
JD Seymour: the project on Faulkner Road where the bank of the river failed will be over budget. He had meetings with FEMA, NYS DEC permits need to be signed by Dewey because this is a project in the Delaware watershed. The cost of work is estimated at over $1 million. FEMA should reimburse 75% of that. Page Pond Road has been fixed, JD attended Highway school, the 10 wheel dump needed repairs, June 22 is clean up day - they are only accepting tires and white goods, Tarbel Hill Road has rain damage, black topping will start in the next couple of weeks, the crew took a refresher class in Windsor.
The board moved to pay the bills for the month.
The meeting was adjourned.
Tuesday 4 June 2019
Special Board Meeting
This special board meeting was called one week before the regular board meeting supposedly because neither the town board, nor the planning board could take any action because there were not enough members. Not sure exactly how the public was supposed to be informed of this meeting. For myself I just happened to be online and saw a Facebook post about the meeting. Anyone I called about it knew nothing about it, so obviously it was another attempt to bypass the public. However the room was packed with people, some were standing in the back.
We had heard through the grapevine that Alice Ray was being considered for a board seat. Alice has a lease with Calpine, therefore is compromised. When we arrived at the meeting Alice Ray was already seated at the board table. This confused many of us because it appeared that she was already on the board.
Dewey started his general mumbling, rambling, announcement stating that a Barb Marko (?) from Oquaga Lake was being appointed to the Planning Board and Ken Wist was being appointed to the board. (What are their dealings with Calpine?)
Public Comment was opened up by the attorney
Kermit Mott: When does the board plan to fill the other seats on the Planning Board?
Lawyer: Next month or two
(Why is Dewey trying to fill the board with pro wind farm people while tying the hands of the planning board and refusing to give Larry and George their seats back?)
Dewey: He doesn't want to appoint anyone he doesn't know
(That might be difficult because I've lived on property adjoining his for 46 years and still have to introduce myself when ever I speak to him.)
AL: Asked why the public wasn't notified about Alice Ray and how was she appointed?
Lawyer: Says Alice was appointed after the last meeting. NOTE the word "after"!
T?: This is madness, how can anyone get on the town board without anyone in the town knowing?
Dewey: Said that appointing Alice was on the last agenda but he forgot to do it and did it at the end of the meeting.
?: stated that she was there until the meeting was over and the board had gotten up from their seats so she felt it was safe to leave. (Clearly they purposely waited until the room was empty to put Alice in office.)
JD: As this gentleman began to speak, loudly enough for everyone in the room to hear, Dewey admitted he can't hear and made the man approach the front of the room. (Makes one wonder how much Dewey is actually aware of.) The gentleman is concerned that qualified individuals are not being considered for seats simply because Dewey doesn’t know them.
Lance Ditewig: Since he's served on local boards, if a seat opens, they seek out the individual they want and ask them to serve. Then, the board appoints whomever they want regardless of what the public wants.
Hate to tell Lance this but just because something has always been done that way doesn't make it right, especially with this charged issue in the town.
CE: According to the open meeting law the appointment of Alice Ray should not have been done in private, she was at the last meeting and has never heard of Alice.
JM: We need to know if our boards or future board members have received or may receive money from Calpine. It is clearly a conflict of interest.
Alice Ray: Stated that she signed a good neighbor lease and has not received money . . . yet.
Dewey: In an apparent attempt to justify this appoint stated that we already have a zoning board member that got money from Calpine.
?: This wind farm is the biggest thing before the board right now and they are stacking the boards with people that must recuse themselves and/or are pro wind farm and the public isn't being given a voice.
There was a recommendation from the back of the room that Alice should step down.
Dewey: We already had Larry and George resign from the planning board and now that want to get back on. He doesn't understand why they resigned. Dewey said, "the board doesn't understand what's happening here.”"He has never spoken truer words!
Larry: The law was written by the attorney, and was pushed through without input from the planning board. When the planning board was dealing with wind law, they were not informed that Calpine was a player in this and that the plan was for an industrial wind farm. The planning board thought they were dealing with people putting up private wind mills and trying to make sure that the construction of them wouldn't impact neighbors. He states that he was proud of the work the planning board did locally until all this happened. (Please note that later Dewey still claims not to understand why he resigned from the board, this explanation seemed pretty straight forward to me.)
Dewey: Continuing to muddy the waters and place blame elsewhere, said they should have come to the board to express their concerns. (Apparently Dewey is refusing to consider their applications because his little feelings got hurt.)
Larry: The planning board is the most intricate part of town government.
JC: She is watching as people continue to move into the area because they want peace and serenity; turbines will change that. She suggests a moratorium to gather more information, but right now she has enough information to say, "No way!" This will be extremely detrimental.
RH: The board needs to realize that people are here because they are angry, they didn't get a voice.
T?: He doesn't know the board members and asks who Lance is.
RH: The wind law is 240 pages, none of it written by locals.
JM: Went to Dewey's house to discuss concerns, she said Dewey and his wife listened, she gave them the movie Windfall to watch. Dewey suggested that NYS enact a moratorium. She says it should be done locally. Dewey represents us and should defend us from Calpine. She admonished Dewey not to let this be his legacy and reminds him that he has the power to stop it.
Geroge: On the planning board they were told by the attorney that less than 24 megawatts was controlled by the town and over that was controlled by the state. He has since found out that was a lie. (Another valid reason to resign if they felt they were lied to by the attorney appointed to “help” them.)
They only found out after the fact that the laws were specifically put in place to help Calpine and the lawyer lead them down a path of deception. Items were added to the law after it left the planning board's hands (Reasons for resignation keep adding up!) Suggest that the process starts again now with informed people.
CE: Article 10 does not replace the law. Why did you change the law specifically to allow this? Why would you do that just because a corporation came in and told you to?
JC: It appears that a select group is making decisions for everyone,that's not right.
?B: She and her husband applied for a building permit for their house only last year. She asks Dewey why she wasn't informed about the potential for turbines 1500 feet from her home before they invested the money into a new house.
?: (Dewey has stated many times that no one was at the meetings where they discussed the wind project. When questioned he likes to say, 'Where were you?' Well we weren't informed that this was a possibility.) This woman stated that she was indeed at those meetings and the scope of this project was never discussed publicly. She said there was a little talk about "windmills" but nothing like this.
AL: This board operates on confusion, and piecemeal information. The board doesn't communicate with the people and it appears more and more that they have been coached by Calpine. A moratorium should be put in place. There was not enough public notice, the law was passed illegally on many levels: bypassing the planning board, stating that there was no environmental impact, not enough public participation. People are already suffering from stress: people have died, some have hives, the local doctor’s office is flooded with people suffering from stress related complaints.
KK: We pay the board and two lawyers so we don't have to be here every month. We don't get paid to be here, do your job.
Kermit Mott: Forced the lawyer to answer a straight forward question, is a moratorium possible?
Lawyer: After trying to get out of answering finally answered, yes. (Good job Kermit!)
CE: If the illegally passed law were repealed by amendment, Calpine wouldn't be able to build.
Lance: The planning board can redo the law and then the board can decide to reject or approve. (How can the planning board take on something like this without the most knowledgeable members: Larry and George? Is the plan to put yes men on the planning board that will write the law the way Calpine wants it?)
AL: Would this be done publicly? (No clear answer, just more talking in circles.)
JM: The Town of Sanford is the lead on the pilot so they should take the lead and enact a moratorium.
The meeting was at this point adjorned but people were asking if it was safe to leave.
Tuesday 14 May 2019
The laborers union showed, dressed in their matching T-shirts. In the parking lot they had a truck with lit billboards on every side. I don’t have a copy of the current laws regarding billboards but a sign larger than six feet square used to be illegal as was a lit sign. But what do they care about the law?
Paul Battisti – Broome County DA candidate
Dewey turned the meeting over to the lawyers Nick Cortize and Brady Beagel. Nick explained that the board has not been responding to citizen questions because they wanted to hear all the comments before they responded. Brady said that he’s been involved since the beginning of this (summer 2016) They had a handout of the timeline.
Lance Ditewig read a lengthy statement (I do not have a copy) Some points he made:
• They shrugged off the health impacts
• In the beginning there was no opposition and they were focused on promoting energy
• Claim that there will be a reduction in property taxes
• Claims that the people that leased need the money
• Mentioned Madison (?) they have had turbines for 20 years and are happy with them (The truth )
◦ that the current setback be doubled to 2.5 X the height (still NOT enough)
◦ limit the flicker to 30 hours / year (insinuated that the turbines will be shut down to comply)
◦ shut down the blades when there is ice build up
KK: The town is selling us out for $500,000 a year. Were the turbines in Madison 700 feet tall? NO! Common sense says this won’t be good for us or our neighbors. The Calpine workers here don’t care about us or our environment.
Laborers: support Calpine
GL: These workers are not local residents, they are outsiders. Our people will get no benefit.
JM: Hopes that the town was doing their due diligence, she got no answers from Calpine meetings. After she spoke out at that meeting, her comment was put in the Press, then she received an anonymous letter telling her to work to stop this project. She recommends the documentary “WindFall” available on Amazon. She recommends we take our time, slow the process down, possibly a moratorium. As a Realtor she is totally against it, she has already lost deals when the people know wind turbines are a possibility. She says the company is sneaky and she doesn’t like their approach. Perhaps there’s a compromise?
CA: Calpine has filed bankruptcy when they were $17 billion in debt. They got rid of their CEO and gave him millions in severance. They claim they can be a good neighbor but he doesn’t believe it. He has tried to sell his house, when he tells them there will be a turbine, they back out. It’s all about the money, it’s not right for them to take the peace.
CM: Asks how many miles in Sanford will be impacted, the board didn’t have an answer. The power is going downstate, put the windmills in Cannonsville. That way NYC gets the power, the water, and any water damage the windmills cause.
TC: Who exactly is the lead agency? No answer. Where is the environmental impact statement? Were private water wells taken into consideration? Where are they going to get the water for mixing concrete? They are going to drill a well on Hill’s. He then asks what happens when they drop the water level and it impacts the aquifer. Brady said the blasting plan is supposed to address private water wells.
JD: Why did they negotiate a pilot agreement that protects Calpine from paying the taxes they should. Brady: excuse? The town has a small budget and dealing with a wealthy company.
Lance: Calpine dropped six turbines from the original 33 planned. Sanford will have 23 turbines.
Dewey: it gets complicated blah blah blah something about reducing our assessment 40%.
PC: noise, flicker. Asks about the statement read at the beginning of the meeting saying we should have less than 30 hours of flicker. She’s been notified by Calpine that she will have more than that. The lawyer said the new regulations should address that, if not there will be a complaint resolution process. PC continued, Calpine shouldn’t be allowed to monitor themselves. The lawyer said there is supposed to be continual compliance, there should be a site monitor hired by the board, but Calpine pays (he believes)
BM: Four turbines will be near his campground. He has a rendering of them. How can the board know the results of tests when 700 foot turbines have never been built. This doesn’t make sense to him. Calpine is an LLC, they’re going to come in, build, then be out of here.
AL: she appreciates that the town looked at the law but the setback still isn’t enough. The closer the turbine the heavier the impact, health impact, visual impact. The more the board asks for the more protection we will have. Dewey had a lame excuse about not pushing Calpine out with regulations. She then read a statement from a sound expert saying that the Bluestone project ignores infrasound. He believes the background sound levels are exaggerated. At the minimum they should comply with the WHO guidelines. When she finished reading the statement she asked when new planning board members will be appointed.
Laborer: we need the jobs
?B: in response to the laborer, we’re workers too. You are taking the homes we worked for. You workers will build the turbines and leave. Blasting will impact our water. What about radon? Clifford Crouch says the town board is our only hope and they are ignoring us. Asks again for a Property Value Guarantee (PVG)
MD: supports Bluestone, says his workers need it.
CD lawyer for BCCR: only temporary jobs for out of towners. The town is the people, over 10% have signed petitions opposed to the project. He’s sure the law was written with Bluestone. The precautionary principle should be used with this. Instead they are willing to clearcut 27 mountain tops, and ignore the known fault-lines in the area when they blast. This is a 5000 acre facility, the environmental impact will be immense. The scenic impact will be huge. The siting board must prove that Bluestone is not detrimental to the area. It is not on us to prove it is detrimental. Admonishes the board to think about what’s best for the people that live here.
Laborer: started out saying he understood our concerns but wants us to ignore that so they can work.
Laborer: sees a lot of controversy about this but never hears anything about quarrying or logging.
CD: How do we get a copy of the new law? Have to fill out a FOIA request, see Allison Lang
PV: noticed new regulations recommended lowering the acceptable level of sound, but still that level is outside my house. So I have to be closed up in my house with the doors and windows closed? That’s a taking of my right to peaceful enjoyment of my property.
Some discussion about how they are going to cross Oquaga Creek. Brady said DEC is aware of the problem.
?B: again asked about PVG
?: The sampling towers were supposed to be taken down and haven’t been. A former member of the planning board informed the town board that Carl Krantz sent them a letter about this problem but the board ignored it.
KM: asked again about property values.
BH: owns the Blair farm. This is the most scenic part of NY, that’s why he came here. Property values are certain to drop.
JM: talked about the right of peaceful enjoyment of your property and that people can’t legally take it.
Note: When we left, the laborers were gathered in the parking lot. They were cussing up a storm, laughing loudly, and joking about getting drunk. Classy. Then they wonder why we don’t want them in our town.
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Tuesday 9 April 2019
(these minutes are not from a recording and are only what I was able to quickly jot down)
Oquaga Lake Report
Waiting for board to read and approve various reports
Why aren’t these are sent to board members via email to read before the meeting begins?
JD Seymour’s Highway Report
Training, FEMA meetings, Strubel wants to close the road, community clean up, employee training on equipment, permission for him to attend highway school, rabies clinic, ordered tires for equipment, 75 loads of crush run gravel stockpiled, spoke to lawyers about property on Faulkner Rd. (is the town buying more property? why?), bond from TDS telecom to set poles on Paige Pond, NYDEC notified about bridge scouring on Melody Hill, ditches cleaned in front of Chamberlain because he complained.
Public comment s began after 7:30
Community members were admonished to be respectful, keep comments to less than five minutes, and the board would not be answering any questions. (Because I did not catch everyone’s name that commented I will put what I thought were their initials where I can and what their concerns are.)
BM: owns a campground is concerned about noise, view, damage to water sources, loss of business because of these
CE: noise, and infrasound
PK: flicker, five turbines are planned near her home; she mentions that in Maine the setback is 13 times the height of the turbine.
BB: infrasound as he has a son with a heart problem. He states that infrasound can travel up to six miles from the turbine.
KK: the only people that want this will be making money: people that leased, or work for the company.
RC: negative economic issues, decreased tax rolls, the town should ask for a moratorium.
L?: more cons than pros, home depreciation by almost half within an eight mile radius, what about the tax base? This should have been a public referendum.
CW: peaceful enjoyment threatened, no advantages
TC: agrees with everyone’s comments, demands a halt, his rights are infringed. This is gross negligence by the board and the biggest mistake the Town of Sanford board ever made.
AL: demands that the board protect the residents, and asks the board when we will get answers from them.
RH: states that the board already knew the dangers, the residents are going to lose everything the board should lose too.
RM: was approached to lease but did not because she thinks this is a disaster for the area.
MS: asks why young people would come here
?B: concerned about small setbacks, water contamination, radon, only seven full time jobs
AL: asks the board to pay attention to speakers instead of texting on their phones
RR: the board has failed the residents, didn’t do their job
AB: a tourist in Deposit, asks for a moratorium, has seen areas near turbines where people have had for sale signs on their homes for 10 years, they had to walk away from homes they can’t sell. The set back is only 1.25 times the height of the turbine. Mentions a study by Mike McCann
GL: concerned about infrastructure of area and future road repairs (this was shrugged off by the board because they say the company will pay a bond upfront for repairs. My experience from the Bluestone pipeline is this is never enough money, the work doesn’t get done properly, and repairs just add to the noise, environmental disruption, air pollution, and industrial activity.)
JM: as residents we need to pay more attention to our government, we can no longer expect them to do their job to protect us. The meeting was evidence that the people are prepared to take the power back.
We were told to file freedom of information requests to find out what the board has done. The reporter from the Courier took the opportunity to state that the board minutes as published were a joke. Deposit minutes are a word for word transcription of what was said in the meeting. Sanford minutes simply state “discussion”.
No one spoke in favor of moving forward on this project.
At the end of the meeting Dewey scolded the community members for not being at meetings before this point in the process. Someone shouted out, how could we since you kept it a secret. He continued to blame community members for not attending meetings, infuriating them even further.
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