A recurring theme in the debate over wind development in Vermont seems to be that the citizens of Sheffield voted in favor of wind 120-93. Not only is 27 votes not a “resounding victory,” but Sheffield citizens really never did get an opportunity to vote “for” or “against” industrial wind.
Over a year ago, 341 citizens of Sheffield petitioned their Selectboard to cease negotiations with wind developers. A vote was scheduled asking if the board would end those discussions.
The straw pole non-binding vote then allowed the Selectboard to continue “discussions” with developers, with the agreement that any negotiations be brought back to voters for input and a final vote. Despite repeated requests from residents, all meetings with this developer were held in private. The Select Board repeatedly reassured residents they would not sign anything without coming back to voters first. Residents then petitioned for Australian Ballot for any agreement between the town and the developer. Within days, Selectmen signed an agreement with the developer that was binding to the town and irreversible.
This 20-year commitment to our townspeople never saw the light of day. It has never been discussed nor has it ever been voted on by the people of Sheffield. Without input or a final vote, it would be a half-truth to report that Sheffield voted for or against industrial wind – they have never actually been given that right. Sheffield’s newly formed Planning Commission recently released its own town survey.
Sixty percent of residents, taxpayers, and landowners report they are “against” industrial scale wind development. Sadly, we may never know if Sheffield is “for” or “against” wind. But one thing’s for sure, its Selectboard likes it.
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