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VN 9/26 - Thank You, Friends!

Last week Cohocton Republicans came out to the primary polls in record numbers to vote for this fall’s Republican ticket. For the first time in years voters were given an alternative, and a slate of seasoned and well-financed incumbents was opposed by a group of fellow-citizens with a different vision for Cohocton’s future. Prior to the election, wind power enthusiasts derided Reform Cohocton supporters as a small fringe group, a “dedicated dozen” of negative souls. Thank you, voters, for demonstrating that serious opposition to doing business the “YES” way exists, even in Republican circles.

What did our incumbents do to lose your support?

- They grossly twisted the facts about recent lawsuits and tried to shift the blame for our current legal liability from themselves to those who are working hard to hold them accountable.
- They hurried the timetable of negotiations with UPC Wind and then tried to make us all believe that everything was done and in order when, in fact, the deal isn’t really closed yet.
- They tried to falsely malign the reputations of fellow citizens.
- They even resorted to thinly veiled bribery by waving promises of unearned money in our faces and then prematurely offering estimated property tax reductions just prior to the primary.

Fortunately, a couple of serious court cases, unfinished negotiations with SCIDA and UPC, permit issues, and a general election in November still stand between the incumbents and their plans to sell our wind resources for a song and let UPC rip up our woods and farmland as they turn our entire town into an industrial wind power plant.

Our current leaders are sadly mistaken. We need people leading us who can tell the difference between right and wrong. Now is the time for citizens of all political persuasions to wake up, come forward, and help us correct a process that’s gotten completely out of order. Please visit us online, pray with us for wisdom and justice to prevail, and join the struggle. It’s not too late!



Vote in Republican Primary

A reminder from Reform Cohocton:

Be sure to vote in the Republican Primary at your normal voting place - Town Hall, Cohocton and Court Office, Atlanta - NOON to 9:00 PM Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007.

  • Robert C. Strasburg II – Town Supervisor
  • Steven M. Sick – Town Council
  • Cesare F. Taccone – Town Council
  • Blair Hall – Town Clerk
  • Dr. F. Stoner Clark – Town Justice
  • Christina Brautigam - Town Assessor
  • Rebecca Conard - Town Assessor
Sweep clean past failures!
A bright future demands new leadership.



VN 9/18 - A Town Divided

UPC Wind arrived in Cohocton 5 years ago with a bright new idea: “Let’s help save the planet from global warming and make a boodle of money in the process.” Quietly and privately they went about signing up interested leaseholders and local politicians until they had the makings of a wind farm. Then in April 2006 they sprung their project, almost full-blown, on our unsuspecting community, precipitating a struggle for truth and loyalty that has divided our once-peaceful town into bitterly opposed camps. This is the legacy our current leadership is leaving us - division, not prosperity.

How did we get this way, and what can we do now?
- Jack Zigenfus showed us how we got here in his Valley News ad last week: he took his cues from powers above him, not from the electorate below, revealing a seriously misplaced sense of loyalty.
- Our current leaders decided what to do before bringing it to the general public, then steadfastly refused to receive any input.
- Reconciliation, compromise, mediation, and preserving the social integrity of our community have consistently been sacrificed in favor of perceived economic benefit – money, in other words.
- Contrary to their public claims, this is not “REAL” leadership; this is painfully divisive, willful pride and arrogance.

This fall we have our chance to elect a team that’s committed to the entire community, not just wind power supporters. These are folks like you and me that would like to see Cohocton come to a united decision.

Examine the qualified slate of candidates being put forward by Reform Cohocton. Then cast your vote in today’s Republican primary (polls will be open Tuesday, September 18th, from noon to 9 pm). Help us elect a team this fall that’s dedicated to the principle of unity our hearts are all pledged to: One Town, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!



UPC Lies to Ironworkers

As a matter of introduction I am Mike Altonberg, Business Agent for The Ironworkers in Rochester. Four or five months ago I was told by UPC Wind management that their general contractor for the wind turbine projects in Cohocton and Prattsburgh would be hiring all local people for the building of the towers. At a meeting last Tuesday in Cohocton, we were informed that things have changed and now all the workers will be brought in from out of state. The company, Mortenson Construction from Minnesota, will bring workers from out west, and local construction workers are locked out of all that work. All those wages paid will not be invested in our local economy but instead sent out west. Is that a slap in the face to all the hard working unemployed construction workers in our area? I've been told that UPC promised local governments (as they promote on their website) that it's important to hire locally, but obviously not in our case! Now that the project is a go and they've been caught in a lie, how many more lies have they told? UPC should be escorted to the state line and told not to come back.

Just for the record you most certainly can post my comments and phone number on your website. We were promised three years ago by Jim Sherron, Steuben County IDA, that this would be a project that would use local labor. Lawrence Mott from UPC actually told me a couple of weeks ago that Jim told him to contact me about the labor. Of course that went down the drain. We are extremely upset and plan some job actions against UPC and Mortenson. In the past Mortenson has used local people all across the country, but in Cohocton and Prattsburgh they feel like they can run rampant and do as they please!

Mike Altonberg
(585) 330-3109

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UPC Lies to Us All?

On August 22 UPC Wind sent out a letter from John Pelczar, Construction Manager, to all the citizens of Cohocton which started out by saying, "UPC Wind has been working with the Cohocton community for almost five years to develop the Cohocton and Dutch Hill Wind Farms. We are happy to announce that the design and approval process has come to an end." (emphasis added)

Mr. Pelczar went on to claim that "Over the past few weeks the Town Board approved its agreements with UPC Wind, the Planning Board approved the Cohocton and Dutch Hill Wind site plans, and the Code Enforcement officer issued our building permits. These agreements guarantee the Town of Cohocton $11.5 million dollars over the next 20 years, $3.85 million of which will come to the town in the first four years. Our agreements also guarantee $150,000 for the renovation of the Larrowe house." He concluded by introducing Jane Towner as UPC's Project Community Relations Representative.

What's the problem here? Well, 1) the agreements aren't complete; 2) promises should never be confused with guarantees; 3) nobody in Town seems to be able to come up copies of the building permits; and so 4) the process really hasn't "come to an end" yet. All of this is just UPC filling the pre-election air with more self-serving wishful talk, talk that resembles lying.

A parting question: if the incumbents regain political office and Jane Towner is UPC's "Project Community Relations Representative," who will look out for the interests of citizens who run into problems with UPC? Talk about putting a group of foxes in charge of the hen house!

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Wind Turbines in Hamlin?

According to an extensive article in Rochester's CITY Newspaper this week a Wind Tower Committee created by the Hamlin Town Board "recommended that windmills would have to be set back 1,500 feet from roads and 2,640 feet from dwellings." It further recommended "that there be noise limits; that the town require in-depth studies of the effects on birds, bats, and other wildlife; and that there be a full evaluation of the financial impacts of any proposed project." The article went on to note that "Hamlin officials still have to draft regulations and hold public hearings, but the Town Board is expected to follow the committee's recommendations."

Aside from some naive and somewhat confused reporting about megawatt usage and output (see What is a Megawatt? for clarity), the report is quite thorough and worthwhile. Click here to read the full article.



Report on Candidate Night

Today's Hornell Evening Tribune ran an excellent article by Bob Clark reporting on last night's Reform Cohocton candidate night that starts out

Wind power topped a Reform Cohocton town hall-style forum Tuesday night.Congressional candidate Eric Massa and Reform Cohocton candidates answered questions from a crowd of more than 60 Cohocton residents at Cohocton Elementary School. Wind power and turbines dominated the meeting, with every candidate and Massa speaking about the issue.

Bob goes on to quote Jack Zigenfus' empty excuses for why the incumbents boycotted the event. Click here to read the entire article.



VN 9/11 - Taxes Going Up?

By now we’re all reading glowing reports from Cohocton’s current leaders about how much they’ve been doing for all of us these past several years. But have you taken time to watch your tax bill lately? Some of us have been noticing pretty dramatic annual increases, even 10% or more, but nothing quite like what’s just come in the mail. With the new “reassessment” our tax bill has just gone up 31% since last year! What about yours? Maybe your family is on a favored list, and your taxes have actually gone down. But what about the rest of us?

What is going to happen to our taxes?
- Will they go down under the current administration if we get promised cash infusions from UPC Wind? No guarantees here.
- Who will review the recent reassessment, noting carefully whose taxes went up, whose went down, and why? The same people who were in charge of the reassessment process? Not on your life.
- If a chunk of cash rolls into our coffers in 2008, who’s likely to vote themselves a handsome pay raise? New folks, or some proud incumbents who think they’re worth a hearty pat on the back?
- Who will have the courage to tackle the thorny fiscal problems we’re facing? The people who created them? Highly unlikely.

Right now we have a painfully polarized group of leaders that can only think about rewarding windmill supporters and making life difficult for the rest of us. We need new people in office who can examine our tax situation fairly, not the same YES folks who, perhaps sincerely, keep misleading us deeper and deeper into liability.

Elections in Cohocton have often been decided in the Republican primary races, coming up on September 18th, but this year may be different. Review the qualified slate of Reform Cohocton candidates online at www.cohocton.net. Then come to the Cohocton Elementary School on September 11th at 7 pm for the Public Candidate Forum, pray with us for wisdom and justice, and let your voice be heard!



Article 78 Lawsuits Filed

On Friday August 31, 2007 three separate Article 78 lawsuits were filed in Steuben County by citizens and property owners against the Cohocton Planning Board. (The UPC project known as Cohocton Pine Hill / Lent Hill and Dutch Hill Project has violated their conditional PSC permit. A stay has been requested from the Supreme Court on all construction. Improper siting of 51 industrial wind turbines in violation of Town and NYS law and regulations is the basis of the litigation.) Certain turbines intrude upon the property in adjacent towns and Ontario County.

These lawsuits are in addition to the action against Cohocton Windmill Local Law #2 pending before Supreme Court Judge Marianne Furfure and awaiting Fourth District appellate review on Cohocton Windmill Local Law #1. Town Supervisor Jack Zigenfus has stated publically that the Town of Cohocton is not concerned about the ruling by Judge Furfure.

At issue is the consistent and continual violation of zoning laws and lack of public health and safety protections in the UPC land use plan. The issuance of "Special Use" permits by the lead agency, Cohocton Planning Board, is challenged in these actions.

UPC has released statements that all permits have been granted and construction on the project has started. On Friday August 24, 2007 trucks working for UPC were cited by Steuben County Highway Department for operating without road permits.

Additional litigation regarding the UPC Prattsburgh Project as well as the Cohocton Project is being readied.

David P. Miller, Esq.
111 N. Main Street
Naples, NY 14512
(585) 374-2130



VN 9/4 - It's Election Year!

This fall Cohocton voters will have their first chance to express their opinion about UPC Wind’s $250,000,000 windmill project at the polls, even if it’s indirectly. So far, our incumbents have carefully kept the whole matter out of the hands of the electorate, refusing even a nonbinding referendum. Local leaders in Webster, NY, on the other hand, recently put their town’s proposed $15 million community center proposal before the voters, only to see it defeated. Webster Town Supervisor Ron Nesbitt responded to the vote by saying, “Scaling down the project may be the best bet to gain the public's approval.”

Do our incumbents want the public’s approval?
- They sure do! But their tactic is to say YES first and then wave money at us all without even giving us a chance to look at the carefully crafted promises that are behind all this supposed money.
- In the meantime, we’ve been told that construction is going to proceed, even though valid building permits haven’t been issued, fees haven’t been paid, bonds haven’t been secured, the PILOT agreement hasn’t been ratified in Bath, etc., etc.
- Yes, they would like you to approve a project after they’ve gotten us all so deep into the building process that there isn’t any way out but to try to clean up the mess. This is the YES way.

Even if cleaning up the mess is all we’re left with, however, it’s a task that’s going to need new leadership, people who will trust and respond to the electorate. We need a new group of people who can ask UPC Wind the tough questions and hold the line with them, not the same YES folks that got us into this pickle in the first place.

Elections in Cohocton have been traditionally decided in September’s Republican primary races, which are coming up very soon. Examine the qualified slate of candidates being put forward by Reform Cohocton, come out to the Public Meeting being held on September 11 from 7-9 pm at the Cohocton Elementary School, then pray with us for wisdom and justice to prevail and let your voice be heard!



Agricultural Noise Lawsuit

According to an article put out yesterday by the Associated Press

A group of residents is suing a farmer, claiming the propane cannon he uses to scare away birds from his sweet corn is too loud. Some of produce farmer Dennis Polley’s neighbors say the propane blasts — sometimes as loud as 120 decibels — have prevented them from enjoying their property.

Phil Palmgreen, whose property is roughly 500 yards away from Polley’s, said he could feel the impact of the blasts in his chest. “It’s been so bad all summer we’ve never even had a cookout on our deck because it was going to go off every couple of minutes,” said Palmgreen.

120 decibels? That's only 15 decibels louder than one Clipper Liberty wind turbine. 500 yards? That's 1500 feet, the setback specified by Windmill Law #2. How many cannons does Dennis Polley have? Only one. How many noise generators are we currently signed up for? Fifty-one, at last count. Click here to read the whole article.

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