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Rienbeck Aff. With All Exhibits

Rienbeck Aff. With All Exhibits

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Published by pandorasboxofrocks
AFFIDAVIT OF
THOMAS K. RIENBECK
AFFIDAVIT OF
THOMAS K. RIENBECK

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Published by: pandorasboxofrocks on Dec 24, 2010
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01/11/2013

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SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
COUNTY OF JEFFERSONWIND POWER ETHICS GROUP,Petitioner-Plaintiff,
FFIDAVIT OFTHOMAS K. RIENBECK
- against -
PLANNING BOARD OF THE
TOWN OF CAPE VINCENT, andRICHARD EDSALL, TOM RIENBECK,GEORGE MINGLE, ANDREW BINSLEY, andKAREN BOURCY, in their capacities asplanning board members,Respondents-Defendants, andST. LAWRENCE WINPOWER, LLC,Respondent-Defendant.Index No. 10-2882RJI No. 22-10-0990THOMAS K. RIENBECK being duly sworn, deposes and says:
1.
Between January 2000 and December 2009, I was the Supervisor of the Town of
Cape Vincent. Presently, I am a member of the Cape Vincent Planning Board.2.In these roles, I actively participated in the review of the St. Lawrence wind farm
project (the "Project") pursuant to the State Environmental Quality Review Act ("SEQRA"). As
such, I am fully familiar with the facts and circumstances surrounding the above captioned
proceeding.
3.
This affidavit is submitted in support of the Cape Vincent Planning
Board's
Verified Answer. More specifically, this affidavit is submitted in response to Petitioner's claim
that the Planning Board's September 15, 2010 vote to accept a statement of SEQRA findings
 
regarding the Project should be set aside due to the existence or appearance of a conflict of
interest amongst one or more of the Planning Board members.
Background
4.
The Project will occupy a significant portion of the Town (approximately 7,900
acres).
5.
As a result, the Project has been the subject of intense scrutiny by Town residents,
neighboring and seasonal residents, governmental agencies, citizen groups and the like over thepast four years. Likewise, the Project has also been the subject of extensive formal review andconsideration by the Cape Vincent Town Board, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals
during this time.
6.
Throughout the Town's review, Petitioner has been a vocal critic of the Project
alleging, among other things, that the review process employed by the Tovvn was tainted becausevarious Town officers and employees had prohibited conflicts of interest regarding the Project.
7.
In fact, during my tenure as Town Supervisor, Petitioner engaged in a series of
challenges against a determination of the Town pursuant to which the Project was classified as a"utility" under the Town's Zoning Law.8.
As part of its challenge, Petitioner specifically alleged that the classification of the
Project as a "utility" should have been set aside because various Planning Board members and
the Town Code Enforcement Officer had prohibited conflicts of interest in the Project. (See
Exhibit "A," December 6, 2006 Letter from Petitioner to the Town Zoning Board of Appeals).
 
9.
The Town's Zoning Board of Appeals, Jefferson County Supreme Court and theAppellate Division, Fourth Department each affirmed the Town's classification of the Project as
a "utility," and none of these entities found fault with the conduct of the Town's officers or
employees. (See Exhibits "B," "C" and "D," copies, respectively, of the Cape Vincent Zoning
Board of Appeals, Supreme Court and Appellate Division decisions).
10.
As Supervisor, I was similarly of the opinion that all of the Town's officers and
employees were acting appropriately. In fact, so as to comply with the mandate of Article 18 of
the General Municipal Law as well as the Town's Ethics Code (see Exhibit "E"), the Tovvn's
officers and employees, including members of the Planning Board, disclosed at the outset of St.Lawrence's application for site plan approval whatever direct or indirect connection they might
have had with the wind companies that were obtaining leases in the Town.
11.
The intent was to ensure compliance with the law, rendering our Town's
government open and ensuring that the affiliations, if any, of our officers and employees with
wind companies were known not only by other officers and employees of the Town, but by the
general public.
12.
Nevertheless, facing continued criticism and the possibility of further litigation by
Petitioner, in 2008, the Town's special counsel provided additional assistance regarding the
disclosure and recusal requirements set forth at Article 18 of the General Municipal Law.
13.
Following receipt of counsel's advice, the Town's officers and employees again
formally disclosed any direct or indirect relationship they had with the wind and land companies
that were obtaining leases within and outside the Town.
14.
The disclosures were presented in writing at a publicly noticed Town Board
meeting.
(See
Exhibit "F," Conflict Disclosures).

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