Attorney Ed Bearor, representing Steve Bennett and other property owners abutting or otherwise potentially affected by a proposed wind turbine project at Beaver Ridge in Freedom, said Thursday he was “amazed” how the project developers were able to gain permitting for a project of such magnitude without allegedly meeting what he suggested should have been basic local requirements.
The occasion was the opening round before the town appeals board in the aftermath of the planning board’s Jan. 4 decision to issue a permit for a project estimated to cost $10 million to $12 million.
Specific areas of objection Bearor raised to the planning board’s decision concerned a waiver of a stormwater management plan, the proposed route over a discontinued road into the site by trucks bringing 30-foot-long rotor blades and sections of the three 262-foot towers, whether these trucks would end up trespassing on private property, the path underground electrical conduits would take, how the definition of a building footprint might be interpreted to include the area covered by the swiveling turbine nacelles and the spinning rotor blades, the proximity of the turbines to property setback lines, the lack of a new survey for the property, and how much noise the turbines would produce.
Argument over this last and perhaps most controversial issue was only interrupted after three and a half hours when Addison Chase, chairman of the five-person appeals board, imposed a 10:30 p.m. “witching hour” cap. Up until that time, Bearor and two expert witnesses made their claims before an audience in the basement of the Congregational Church numbering more than 50 townspeople. On the other side, Richard Silkman and Andy Price, two of the principals in Competitive Energy Services (CES), the project developers, and Price’s uncle Ron Price, who wants to lease the farmland at Beaver Ridge where the turbines would be erected, defended against Bearor’s charges.
At the beginning of the session, Chase dispensed with objections from project supporters claiming the appeal wasn’t filed in timely or procedurally correct fashion. The first issue concerned which of two conflicting ordinances should apply in determining the start of the 30-day window of opportunity to file–that of the appeals board or the Commercial Development Review Ordinance. He decided it should be the latter because this ordinance deals more specifically with the issue in question. The ordinance interprets the start of the appeals process from the time a written decision is handed down by the planning board, not the time the board votes.
Similar objections that were raised concerned whether mailed copies of the appeals notice letter that never showed up at the town office had, in fact, been sent, thus arguing for the appeal to be thrown out. Bearor produced an affidavit signed by his secretary affirming she had mailed the letters. He indicated a presumption existed that once in the mail the letters would be delivered.
Also, Beaver Ridge property owner Ron Price argued he had been misidentified in documents filed by those appealing the planning board’s favorable decision. Chase agreed “Roland C. Price” instead of “C. Ronald Price” definitely amounted to misidentification, but he declined to reject the appeal, explaining that nonetheless no ambiguity existed as to who owns the property.
The appeals session will continue next Thursday at 7 p.m. at which time local resident Diane Winn will resume her arguments why the potential noise factor requires further examination.
By Peter Taber
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding