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Schneider resigns as Cape Vincent councilman after buying Wellesley Island house

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CAPE VINCENT — Republican town Councilman Clifford P. Schneider tendered his resignation Monday.

Mr. Schneider, who was elected to serve a four-year term on the Town Council in November 2011, made the decision after closing on the purchase of a home Friday off Wood Cliff Drive on Wellesley Island.

The purchase came after Mr. Schneider had moved from Cape Vincent to Sackets Harbor, where he temporarily has been living since the fall, due to personal reasons. Since that was a temporary living arrangement, he was not legally required to resign as a councilman because he intended to move back to Cape Vincent.

“I closed on the house last Friday, so I notified the town of my resignation, since I won’t be living there,” Mr. Schneider, 71, said. “Initially, I had an interest to come back to the town of Cape Vincent, but I found a house on Wellesley Island that’s really nice. It’s a beautiful place that reminds me of the Adirondacks, and I’m still in close proximity to friends and family.”

News in February that BP Wind Energy abandoned the application for its 285-megawatt industrial wind farm in the town did not affect his decision to move to Wellesley Island, Mr. Schneider said.

The councilman opposed the project during his two years on the board, also serving as a member on the town advisory committee that oversaw the project. He formerly served as an appointed town board member for one year in 2006, following the resignation of Michael J. Docteur, who represents Cape Vincent on the Jefferson County Board of Legislators.

“Some might have the view that BP chose to pull out of their project before I left, but I had a purchase offer on the house before that,” Mr. Schneider said. “But I was pleased that they chose to end their application, because I felt that it would be easier to leave. I had indicated that if BP had not gone, I wouldn’t be able to sit on the board but would still be involved in the advisory committee.”

Mr. Schneider said his motivation to serve on the council was to oppose the industrial wind development pushed by BP Wind Energy.

“I got involved because the kind of industrial development that they proposed in Cape Vincent was never spelled out in the town’s plans for future development,” he said. “None of that plan was compatible with what these folks had embraced as industrial wind developers. I’m not a fan of industrial wind. That wasn’t the way (I felt) in the beginning; but given my experience now, I don’t think it’s good for Cape Vincent, the Thousand Islands region and New York state.”

Town Supervisor Urban C. Hirschey said Monday the board has not yet determined a course of action for appointing someone to fill Mr. Schneider’s position. That decision will be made at the board’s April 17 meeting.

“We can appoint a person to replace him and advertise it, which we would probably do,” Mr. Hirschey said. “We would then make the appointment at the next meeting. But we could decide not to appoint anyone” and wait until the next election.

He described Mr. Schneider as an “invaluable member of the town board” who will be missed.

“He brought intelligence and experience,” Mr. Hirschey said.

Mr. Schneider, a Long Island native, was a Cape Vincent resident for more than 40 years. He served as an aquatic biologist at the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Cape Vincent Fisheries Station from 1970 until he retired in 1999.

He is a member of the Jefferson County Planning Board.

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