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Wind project shuts down but will blow back

Wind turbine construction on the Hancock side of Brodie Mountain will “button up” for the winter, Dale Osborn, president of DisGen Distributed Generation Systems Inc. of Lakewood, Colo., said Monday.

But, he said he was confident work would resume in the spring despite a lawsuit from the developer of the abutting Snowy Owl Resort.

Silverleaf Resorts Inc. of Dallas, the resort developer, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Springfield against the Berkshire Wind Project developers in September after contractors clearing land for the windmill project allegedly cut down trees on Silverleaf’s property in June.

The suit seeks that five of the 10 turbines be moved further west, away from Silverleaf’s property line. The time-share resort is being built at the former Brodie Mountain ski area, off Route 7.

Silverleaf filed for a preliminary injunction against continuing construction on Oct. 11. So far, five foundations have been dug. Silverleaf claimed the sight of wind turbines would infringe on the resort’s vision of housing in a pristine setting.

Judge Michael A. Ponsor denied the injunction request two weeks later, but set a pretrial hearing date for March 16.

“As the defense, we believe we will prevail,” Osborn said Monday.

He said DisGen had secured all the proper paperwork and permits to complete construction in 2003, before Silverleaf even bought the property in 2004.

As for the trees, Osborn said, the cutting was an “honest mistake” on the part of the primary contractor. He said damage might amount to about $2,000.

Osborn said he switched to using another primary contractor in July and instructed all his personnel to stay off the Silverleaf property.

Condron Construction of Lanesborough now leads the project to construct the 338-foot-high turbines, which are projected to generate nearly 15 megawatts of electricity – enough to power up to 4,500 households yearly.

Osborn said the issue in question is not the trespassing or tree cutting.

“The issue is that Silverleaf decided that being able to see one or two turbines from over a half-mile away is some kind of horrific event,” he said. “There will be very limited visual impact on the condominiums.”

Silverleaf representatives said in a memorandum that the turbines are “an aesthetic nuisance.” According to Osborn, that term is “akin to calling (the project) a junkyard.”

Project costs have reached $2.25 million, and owners are looking to sell at a profit, according to court documents.

Silverleaf, which also owns Oak ‘N Spruce Resort in Lee, paid $2.6 million for 500 acres on Brodie mountain. The company plans to invest $40 million to build 332 condominiums and timeshares.

Michael J. Brown, director of resort development at Silverleaf, said he had no comment on the lawsuit because the company’s policy is not to discuss legal matters with the press.

By Bonnie Obremski, North Adams Transcript

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