Supervisor Richard O. Bargabos (Smithfield) blocked attempts to enter executive session to discuss windmill negotiations during a special meeting of the Madison County Board of Supervisors Feb. 7. The board sat suspended for a brief time while County Attorney John Campanie left the board chambers to research Bargabos' objection under the Open Meetings Law.
When he returned, Campanie reported that though some exceptions exist, the windmill discussions did not qualify. He said the discussions must continue in regular session with the public present. After winning that battle, Bargabos turned his attack on a resolution submitted by finance, ways and means committee Chairman Scott Henderson (Oneida Wards 1, 2 and 3). He said Henderson failed to follow procedure in introducing the resolution, which would have authorized Madison County Board of Supervisors Chairman Rocco J. DiVeronica (Lenox), Administrative Assistant Russell Lura and Campanie to enter an agreement with Citizens Airtricity Energy to receive payments in lieu of taxes on a windmill project about to be erected in the towns of Stockbridge, Eaton and Madison.
At a special finance committee meeting held before the committee of the whole session, Henderson attempted to garner support for his resolution from fellow committee members.
"The county was kept in the dark [about the proposed windmill project]," Henderson said. "For how long, I don't know."
According to documents obtained by Eagle Newspapers, however, the project received its special use permits from Stockbridge in July 2005. According to those close to the Airtricity project, those permits could not have been issued without completing the state environmental quality review process and a stamp of approval from the county's Planning Department.
"We went on precedent and took it as the rule that [the county] hadn't been involved," said Eaton Supervisor David Puddington.
"For the record, because of the illegal means by which [the resolution] was arrived at, we cannot act upon it," Bargabos said. "The county must adopt a policy or adopt a resolution to opt out of the Real Property Tax Law."