Michael and Marilyn Gardner are getting closer to building a combination cell phone tower and windmill on their farm on Mann Hill Road. A joint meeting with the Gardners, the Planning Commission and the Design Review Board is pending to finalize permits for the structure.
According to Michael Gardner, the DRB began reviewing to the permit application process recently and a meeting will be scheduled in the next couple weeks.
“They just started working on it,” said Gardner.
The local permits are needed before Gardner and Verizon begin the project. Then, Gardner said, the state Public Service Board will have to grant them a net metering permit. Net metering will measure the amount of power that the farm does not use. This power will go back to the grid, which will help power other local areas, and that measurement will credit money back to the Gardners’ account.
Rep. Bill Botzow, D-Pownal/ Woodford, said that the project falls into an Act 248 application process, which requires wind power facilities to be reviewed by the Public Service Board.
“It’s not like it hasn’t been done before,” said Botzow.
Neither the Public Service Board nor the town have issued permits yet, said Gardner.
“Nobody wants to stick their neck out and make a decision,” said Gardner.
The project will build at 130-foot windmill to power the farm, Gardner said, and 110-foot cell phone antennas will use the same structure.
“It’s not just a cell tower, it’s an operating windmill,” said Gardner.
Gardner said that the project will benefit the whole community by providing power to the farm and helping agriculture, giving cell phone service to the citizens of Pownal, and providing green energy for the area.
“It’s a win, win, win situation for everybody,” said Gardner.
Verizon will pay the cost of building the structure and will lease the land from the Gardners.
According to Nelson Brownell, chairman of the Select Board, some Pownal residents oppose the project because they do not want to see the windmill on the ridgeline. He also said that many support the project because they want cell phone service.
“Some of the citizens have mixed views,” said Brownell.
Botzow said that Pownal voted higher than the state average in favor of broadband and cell phone service.
“People really want cell phone coverage,” he said.
Yet, Botzow also said that each particular case can render different opinions and the Public Service Board will listen to citizen concerns regarding this particular proposal.
“They work really hard to balance all the opinions,” he said.
Gardner said that impact studies have been done. A balloon has been sent up in the air to 130 feet at the site. The balloon could be seen by an adjacent farm and slightly from route 7.
“It’s not going to stick out,” said Gardner.
Public Service Board members were unavailable for comment Monday.
By Andy McKeever
22 May 2007
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