Tuesday evening, Oct. 23, in Cape Vincent, at the municipal hall offered an opportunity for north country voters to see some of the best that local elected officials from the towns of Cape Vincent and Lyme, along with their appointed planning boards, have to offer residents in the north country.
The occasion coincided with British Petroleums (BP) pursuing an approval process under Article X allowing a state siting board to overrule what it (the siting board) considers to be unreasonable local laws as pertains to siting of industrial wind projects. BP has chosen to expedite the siting process by going to Article X as opposed to dealing with the locally effected municipalities directly.
What is important in my opinion is that these elected and appointed board members were articulate, incredibly well informed, and doggedly consistent in their concern for protecting the health and safety of their constituents and the communities they represent. In an era when it appears that government officials are shameless, and that any behavior that is not illegal is acceptable, Tuesday nights performance was a true exception. It was a shining example of how local municipal government, when it has representatives who have integrity and are striving to do what is in the best interest of their communities, speak in a common voice. Any municipal government would welcome the level of participation and professionalism these individuals portrayed on Tuesday evening. They serve their communities well.
Residents of Cape Vincent and Lyme should be proud of each and every one of them. County legislators should take note of the example set. State representatives should recognize the caliber of constituents these folks represent. Their ethical and contemplative responses make a strong argument for keeping local siting authority with the municipalities affected by proposed developments.
The states efforts to grab that responsibility, arguing that local municipalities are unable to make such decisions, or worse, that local municipalities are for sale, appears to be motivated by a willingness, not only to streamline the process, but far more cynically, to allow industry to drive the state policy and control the siting process for their own financial gain. Sadly, it is presented as a green energy policy but it is not green, and it is driven by production tax credits. Ultimately it has removed all critical siting responsibilities from the municipalities that will be at ground zero, and has put those decisions in the hands of an unelected board in Albany.
The Cape Vincent and Lyme boards showed an informed professionalism that calls into question the states claim to decide local siting criteria for industrial wind facilities. These board members are far more capable than Albany to make those evaluations. They are not for sale. They are at ground zero.