Town Board Pulls A Fast One For Big Wind

To the Reader’s Forum:

New rules, new rules: At its August 14 meeting, the Villenova Town Board came up with a new law called “Abolishment of the Planning Board of the Town of Villenova.” Acting board chairwoman Yvonne Park refused to hear public comment before or after the decision. The town board is faced with a Chautauqua County Supreme Court ruling and an Article 78 lawsuit that says “the responsibility of the planning board is to make recommendations to the town board – a duty that cannot be fulfilled, either ethically or legally, by only two board members.” (Observer, July 13). Since the Villenova planning board had only two members, several Villenova residents volunteered to serve on the planning board, presenting resumes at the July meeting. Faced with the dilemma that many of the volunteers were skeptical of the town board’s pro-wind turbine stance, the town board abolished the planning board altogether. A maneuver worthy of Machiavelli.

Volunteers for the planning board included Villenova resident Nancy Huber, a registered nurse and veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves. “My goal as a member of the planning board would be to consider all proposals with the highest consideration of the health and welfare of all residents of the town of Villenova” Nancy Huber said. She briefly outlined her family’s roots in the town, as well as her devotion to its future. “We want to ensure that the town of Villenova and its projects are well-guided and researched before being approved,” she said.

The Chautauqua County Planning Board opposed the turbine height increase from 495 feet to 599 feet citing that no commensurate increases in setbacks from homes were included, nor was an environmental study done to assess the health impacts of larger turbines. A supermajority vote from a local town board is required to overturn a negative ruling from the county planning board. As Machiavelli advised, if dirty work needs to be done, do it quick. The time the Villenova officials devoted to ridding itself of the planning board was four minutes, with no comment allowed.

Karen and Roy Harvey,