Wind company hoping to build 40 turbines in Parishville and Hopkinton files motion to have resident removed from state siting board
By MATT LINDSEY
The wind tower company that wants to build 40 500-foot turbines in Parishville and Hopkinton has filed a motion to have the chairman of a local group opposed to wind towers removed from the state siting board overseeing the proposed project.
Gary Snell Sr. was appointed to the New York Siting Board on Electronic Siting and the Environment on Aug. 2, but the wind company, Avangrid, claims he should be determined ineligible due to a conflict of interest.The siting board is tasked with overseeing the permitting process for power plants of 25 megawatts (MW) or greater. The board has five state-appointed members and two local members. Snell said was nominated by the Town of Parishville and St. Lawrence County. He would represent Parishville and Ernest Parker was chosen to represent Hopkinton.
In a letter addressed to Honorable Kathleen H. Burgess, Avangrid says Snell should not be eligible to be a member of the siting board due to a “bias or interest.” Snell is the chairman of the Concerned Citizens for Rural Preservation (CCRP), which is an anti-wind tower group.
Snell has publicly stated that he is opposed to wind towers in Parishville and Hopkinton.
“They’ve researched everything I’ve said and done – they took pictures of my house,” Snell said.
Avangrid also cited a Letter to the Editor submission to North Country This Week, several news articles in which Snell is quoted, and minutes from local government meetings.
The 90-page affidavit also includes photos of Snell’s mailbox, which had an anti-wind sign on it, as well as an anti-wind sign in his yard. There were screenshots of his personal Facebook page which had posts that are anti-wind.
Avangrid further claims that Snell did not disclose his ties to the CCRP when being nominated by the town to represent the area.
Snell was under the impression that the judge would decide his eligibility in the matter and that he would not need appear in-person over the matter.
Snell says that he was notified by Howard Vargas, a representative of New York Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, that he was on the siting board and that Heastie’s office had done research on Snell before making the decision. The research including talking with local leaders, Snell said.
Snell said he would step down from his position with CCRP in order to stay on the siting board if the judge asks him decide.
Snell was not aware of when a decision would be made.
To read the affidavit, click here.
To view the motion, click here.
The motion was filed by Young/Sommer LLC, the legal representatives for Avangrid. Attempts to contact Avangrid spokesperson Paul Copleman for comment were not immediately returned.