An artist's rendering of how the windmill now under construction at Sullivan County Community College will look when completed.
SCCC wind turbine faces suit from Walter
By Dan Hust
LOCH SHELDRAKE Ken Walter has taken his case against Sullivan County Community College to court.
The Grahamsville resident’s family farm sits on the northern edge of college property in Loch Sheldrake, just 200 yards from an experimental wind turbine now under construction.
Walter has become a fixture at local governmental meetings, decrying both the windmill project and the college’s responses to his FOIL (Freedom of Information) requests.
He’s gotten some support from legislators displeased with SCCC’s handling of his complaints, though Walter has found himself alone in advocating for the turbine to be moved farther away from his family’s land.
College officials have argued in the past that the current site next to the point where the Liberty entrance intersects the main loop is warranted not only for near-constant breezes but also to very visibly demonstrate what will soon be the first-of-its-kind 111-foot-tall vertical windmill.
The college is working with the Japanese company which developed the turbine so as to position itself as a regional leader in green technology, for which it hopes to develop another windmill, an education/research center and a green tech park behind the main campus.
Walter has previously acknowledged he is not against the idea he’s simply against the turbine’s location and the way in which it was handled.
But his protestations and investigations have put him at loggerheads with college leaders, eventually leading to this lawsuit against the college, the county and the Town of Fallsburg.
To be heard in Sullivan County Supreme Court, the petition alleges that the Fallsburg Planning Board’s October 16 approval of a special use permit for the windmill’s construction was illegally granted.
Walter is arguing that the windmill is more akin to a structure than a cell tower and is thus subject to the township’s 100-foot height restriction. (Fallsburg’s code enforcement officer had made the opposite determination.)
Walter also alleges that no proper noise study was done, making the decision “arbitrary and capricious.”
He’s asking the court to nullify the town’s decision and stay the turbine’s construction.
County and college officials are not at liberty to discuss the matter, while Fallsburg officials maintain they followed the town’s rules and the special use permit was legally granted.