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Martino, retired principal and town supervisor, appointed to siting board

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 March 2016 at 12:00 am

Governor names Yates resident to board that will review ‘Lighthouse Wind’

File photo by Tom Rivers – Russ Martino, pictured here on Feb. 13, 2015 during the final meeting of the Orleans County Health Facilities Corporation, has been named to a siting board for the proposed Lighthouse Wind project. Martino served as chairman of the Health Facilities Corporation, which was created to facilitate the sale of the former county-owned nursing home.

YATES – Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stepped in to appoint a Yates resident to fill a spot on a siting board for the proposed Lighthouse Wind project.

The seven-member board includes leaders from five state agencies. It also has two spots for local residents. Cuomo on Tuesday named Russ Martino, a former Yates town supervisor and retired Lyndonville elementary principal, to the board.

That follows a couple months of pressure from local and state officials for Yates to have a voice on the board. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie didn’t appoint someone to the board.

John Flanagan, the State Senate majority leader, appointed Cathi Orr of Somerset to the board. Orr has been a vocal critic of the project, which could include up to 71 turbines in Somerset and Yates.

Apex Clean Energy is working on the application. Many of the documents for the project are available on the state Public Service Commission website. Click here to see the PSC website.

The Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment hasn’t convened. It is part of the new Article 10 process that has been criticized for shifting the final say on the project from local control to a board where the majority of the votes are state officials.

The five state representatives include the chairman of the Department of Public Service, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, commissioner of the Department of Health, chairman of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the commissioner of Economic Development.

After Heastie didn’t act on a local appointment, State Assemblyman Steve Hawley and county officials both appealed to the governor’s office to fill the spot with a Yates resident.

“I am pleased to see that Orleans County will be fairly represented in this process and that the board is allowing ordinary citizens to voice concerns about local projects,” Hawley said. “As I’ve said before, this is a local project that would greatly impact the Yates community and I fully support the decision to oppose the APEX Clean Energy Lighthouse, LLC. Local citizens know what is best for their community and this appointment is a great example of transparent and inclusive government.”

Former Yates Town Supervisor John Belson and Orleans County Legislature Chairman David Callard nominated four Yates residents for the board, including Martino, Cynthia Hellert, Glenn Maid and Jeffrey Oakes.

“I am gratified you have accepted this appointment and I am confident you will serve the people of New York State with dedication and distinction,” Cuomo said in a letter to Martino on March 1.

The Siting Board wouldn’t be officially convened until Apex submits a final application for the project in Yates and Somerset. Company officials say they are working to submit that application this summer.