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Sutton votes to continue fighting wind farm plans

Residents voted 126 to 98 by paper ballot to spend up to $50,000 to pay a lawyer to keep fighting the Sheffield Wind Farm after a contentious special town meeting Wednesday night.

About $36,000 has been spent so far, with $25,000 coming from the town budget and $11,000 from private fundraising and spaghetti dinners, those at the meeting said.

Sutton stands to host four 420-foot tall wind turbines under a plan by UPC Wind Management to erect 16 turbines in a project that would generate up to 40 megawatts at maximum capacity. Sheffield would host 12 turbines and Washington Electric Co-op has agreed to purchase some of the energy for its members.

Sutton voters opposed the project at town meeting, but selectmen held a vote Wednesday responding to a petition to halt spending without voter approval. Most of the 224 Sutton residents gathered at the Sutton School told selectmen to “appropriate funds to continue to fund a lawyer to oppose the UPC Sheffield Sutton Wind project,” but several disagreed.

“I don’t believe people against funding $50,000 should (have to pay it),” said Tom Hazen of Sutton. “The people who want to continue funding it should pay for it with their own money.” One woman said people should stop fighting the project because a wind farm would help the planet because it has less of an impact on the land than other forms of energy. Another said fighting the project is a waste of money.

“We don’t have any control; you are throwing money away,” said Norm Coons of Simpson Hill. “The town of East Haven voted for it (a wind farm) and the state of Vermont said, ‘No, you ain’t getting it.'”

But Carol Brouha warned UPC Wind Management would put up more in the future if they are not stopped. Wind turbines would ruin the view, property taxes and hinder hunting, fishing and trapping, according to other wind opponents.

Some people heckled others as they spoke, but were admonished by moderator Chip Devenger.

UPC Wind Management of Newton, Mass., filed a petition with the Vermont Public Service Board in February.

By Carla Occaso Times Argus Staff

timesargus.com