Robert Michaud, chairman of the Sutton Planning Commission, and residents Rita and Herb Digioa met with the board seeking help with legal fees to fight a proposed wind farm in Sutton. They were joined by Burke resident Brian Kelly, a director of the Kingdom Commons Group. This group opposed the East Haven wind project and worked with the same lawyer, Daniel Hershenson of Norwich, which the town of Sutton hired.
Kelly said UPC Vermont Wind has changed its plans to build industrial wind turbines in Sheffield and Sutton dramatically. The Public Service Board has asked for an amended petition from the wind developer because of the changes. Parties to the docket have until Oct. 10 to file responses to these changes, Kelly said.
“Sutton has a lawyer, but Sutton doesn’t have the money to pay the lawyer,” Kelly said. He asked selectmen to join hands with Sutton to help pay for this one filing. He asked the board to approve the concept of cost-sharing if only for this one time.
“The docket is at a tipping point,” Kelly said. Parties need to let the PSB know they need more time to look at the changes UPC has proposed.
The town of Lyndon filed to be a party to the hearing process on the wind proposal, citing concerns the project would have on aesthetics and the impact on tourism. But the town has not been active in filing testimony against the project.
“We wanted a ticket to the dance,” James said. “Even if we decided not to dance.”
The board was noncommittal to the request, saying more information was needed, such as how much money would this one filing cost.
Sutton selectmen told Hershenson to stop working on behalf of the town in August after Hershenson’s bills went over the $25,000 the board had approved. Now the town is looking at an additional $10,000 in legal fees billed by Hershenson.
During a meeting of the Sutton board last Thursday, a petition was presented calling for a special town meeting to vote on whether the town should continue to pay legal fees to fight the wind farm.
That special meeting will come too late to address the Oct. 10 deadline, Kelly said.
Michaud said a group of citizens had raised $4,300 which was given to the town, but was going toward past bills and not for the future. He said the Lyndon board needs to let them know by this Thursday if the town is in or out. Kelly estimated the cost of this one filing could be about $1,000.
“Would 10 people step up with $100 each to pay for this?” James asked. He suggested reaching out to the community again for this support.
Selectman Martha “Marty” Feltus said she wanted more information about the finances.
“I would also want to make sure Lyndon’s money went to future filings and not to past bills,” Feltus said.
The board decided to have Municipal Administrator Arthur Sanborn meet with Hershenson to find out how much this one filing will cost. “Once we know how much, we can make a decision,” James said.
UPC originally proposed 20 398-foot turbines in Sheffield and another six in Sutton. Sutton residents oppose the project. In response, the developer filed testimony reducing the number of turbines in Sheffield to 14 and the number in Sutton to two. These new planned turbines will have blades about 22 feet longer than the previous ones.
By Jeanne Miles, Staff Writer
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