Smith resigns as Shelby town supervisor; second board member to step down
SHELBY – Jeff Smith has resigned as the Shelby town supervisor, effective at 5 p.m. today. Smith cited a “scorched earth policy” from “the anti-wind people” in pushing him out of office.
Smith’s resignation follows the departure of Deputy Town Supervisor Ryan Wilkins about two weeks ago.
“I have always been honest, and ethical in my dealings,” Smith said. “The negative comments and innuendos directed towards me have caused me to reevaluate my position on the board. I tried to stick it out and keep doing the much-needed work, but finally my sense of duty has been overcome by all the negativity.”
Borrego Energy has proposed two wind turbines at 633 feet tall on land owned by the Smith family on Route 63. Smith has recused himself from town deliberations on the matter. The issue has been divisive in Shelby and drawn a packed crowd to recent town meetings. Many have faulted Smith for a conflict of interest.
Smith said he and Wilkins have been subjected to personal attacks from many residents because of the turbine issue. Wilkins has been leading the town meetings when the turbines are discussed at board meetings.
“These attacks resulted in Councilman Wilkins resigning,” Smith said at Tuesday night’s board meeting, when he read his resignation letter. “This is very unfortunate because he was an active, hardworking young man, exactly the type of person the board and the town needs.”
Smith named Steve Seitz as the acting town supervisor. He is joined on the board by John Pratt and Edward Zelazny.
Smith said he hopes the three can work together especially as Shelby confronts many other issues besides the turbines, with the town budget among the most pressing.
The board, while it has three members, will need a unanimous vote for any resolution to pass. It takes three votes at a minimum to approve a resolution.
Smith, a recently retired fruit farmer, joined the Town Board in April 2018 to fill a vacancy for town councilman following the death of Dale Stalker in December 2017. About six months later Smith was appointed by the other board members to be town supervisor following the resignation of Ed Houseknecht on May 31, 2018. Smith was appointed by the other board members on June 9, 2018.
“I am not special, nor am I a hero,” Smith said. “I did not seek the position, really did not want it, but felt it was my duty to stay while Covid disrupted everything.”
Smith said the town has been working on many other issues besides the two turbines proposed by Borrego, including an ambulance contract, the town budget, weed and brush law, anti-littering law, improvements to Shelby and Millville lighting districts, recruiting and hiring a code enforcement officer, pedestrian bridge on Maple Ridge Road near Mariachi, hiring engineer for potential projects at Medina Business Park, negotiating PILOT and host community benefits package with for solar project with Barre, hiring a town attorney, reviewing sewer discharge from STAMP site in Alabama into Shelby, negotiating water rate with Village of Medina, reviewing public water expansions in the town, as well as lighting at Furness Parkway.
“The wind turbines are not the only important thing going on in our little town,” Smith said. “It is my sincere hope that those who have actively opposed the turbines, and those who support the project will seriously consider becoming members of the Town Board. Our town needs people willing to pitch in and do the work needed.”
The town welcomes applications to fill the vacant town councilman from Wilkins’ resignation. People interested can send a letter and resume by Oct. 26 to Town Clerk Darlene Rich by email email@example.com.
Seitz is scheduled to be sworn in as acting supervisor on Thursday. The board has yet to discuss how to fill Smith’s vacant spot on the board.