Opinion: Wind company, council member go door-to-door, says Hopkinton resident
To the Editor:
Being a resident of Hopkinton and living inside the proposed "Wind Overlay Zone," I have been very vocal concerning my family being forced to live within an industrial wind facility with turbines at least 500 feet tall.My family and I spent a considerable amount of time and money renovating a historic stone home, only to find out much later that Avangrid had secretly signed leases all around me and currently are attempting to coerce the Town of Hopkinton into creating a wind overlay zone to accommodate the previously signed leases; all without so much as even considering my concerns, or the concerns of my neighbors.
Many neighbors have volunteered countless hours to educate themselves and others regarding the pitfalls of the North Ridge Wind Project, such as possible health concerns, decreased property values, and post project remediation including possible loss of good, clean, well water. With the promise of big money, Avangrid Renewables has swept into our previously peaceful town; bringing with it greed, distrust, and corruption.
On Wednesday, Feb. 21, I was leaving the parking lot of the Hopkinton Town Offices when I witnessed Avangrid representative Dan Murdie and Hopkinton Town Councilman Gilbert Sochia going door-to-door meeting with residents. What's the big deal you ask? Councilman Sochia has a documented conflict of interest because his father holds leases for multiple turbines. Even after being informed in writing and repeatedly reminded by Supervisor Sue Wood during open meetings that he is forbidden from having anything to do or say with the proposed wind project due to the Town's Ethics Law, he was using his position of authority as a Town Councilman to solicit for Avangrid and help promote their proposed project.
I have been informed by Supervisor Wood that she has filed her concerns with N.Y.S. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office and is awaiting a response.
While Sochia may want to claim ignorance, Avangrid representative Dan Murdie simply chose to ignore this clear and deliberate violation of not only the Town's Ethics Law, but also a violation of the New York State Code of Conduct, signed voluntarily by Avangrid in an attempt to demonstrate their transparency. "The Code of Conduct seeks to ensure that wind farm development is done in a transparent manner in which municipal officials and companies are accountable, and wind farm development business practices are established and maintained so as to avoid conflicts, or even the appearance of conflicts, of interest." (To read the full press release, go to https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-schneiderman-announces-revised-code-c...).
Based on the guidelines set forth in the Code of Conduct, why didn't Avangrid also list Stephen Green as a town official with a conflict of interest? After all, Stephen Green is the town highway superintendent, another elected position, and he also signed a lease for industrial wind turbines.
While Green may not be a voting member of the town board, he would be directly responsible for determining the amount of money that Avangrid would be required to pay the town for damages to roads, culverts, and bridges.
It makes one wonder what some of the other council members have been doing on Avangrid's behalf and how far this corporate giant will go to make this project happen.
How could Councilman Steve Parker be part of any financial negotiations when he has publicly supported less restrictive setbacks and higher allowable noise levels than the Wind Advisory Board's proposed law?
It would appear that the dirty politics normally associated with Albany and Washington have come to Hopkinton and the citizens should not stand for it!
Please join me in requesting that the New York State Attorney General's Office fully investigate the unsavory practices of Avangrid as well as town officials who have apparently forgotten the town's Ethics law, the oath of office they took, and the New York State Constitution they swore to uphold.
Even if you don't live in Hopkinton, your town could be the next victim to be torn apart by big wind!
Ethics and integrity should not be tossed aside simply because the governor has an agenda that includes turning the North Country into an industrial wind turbine wasteland for the benefit of New York City, big wind companies and his suspected bid for the White House.