HANCOCK – Green Berkshires Inc. is intervening in a legal battle between the two development companies that are arguing whether a proposed wind-turbine project on Brodie Mountain will be a nuisance.
Green Berkshires co-founder Eleanor Tillinghast said Tuesday that the companies are concealing important documents concerning the project that should be public. In a hearing Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court in Springfield, she requested Judge Michael A. Ponsor order the companies to reveal sealed documents.
The developers, DisGen Inc., which claims Berkshire Wind Power LLC as a subsidiary, and Silverleaf Resorts Inc. are saying the documents were sealed to protect confidential business information.
Tillinghast said the hundreds of pages of documents could reveal critical information about the pros and cons of wind turbines, which could help inform communities about how to negotiate with wind farm developers in the future. She said she feared Silverleaf and DisGen had begun to put documents into sealed files without following proper procedures.
“This case sets national and regional precedence and because wind power is so controversial and this project has so many ramifications for the Berkshires, the whole case should be in public record,” she said.
DisGen’s lawyer, Michael Vhay, said Ponsor ruled that the companies must examine all of the sealed documents and confirm that there are legitimate reasons for each of them to remain secret. Then, Green Berkshires will have an opportunity for rebuttal.
“We believe some documents will be released,” Vhay said Tuesday. “In fact, we offered to release some of the documents today, provided we had Silverleaf’s consent, but they rejected the offer. Now, the court will decide.”
The legal battle between the two developers began in the summer of 2006, when a contractor building access roads and foundations for the wind project allegedly trespassed onto the neighboring property, which is owned by Silverleaf.
The companies settled with DisGen offering to pay $10,000, but they are continuing to argue over whether the proposed 10 turbines should be built at all. Silverleaf is claiming the wind-powered generators will mar the landscape and be noisy. The company is interested in building condominiums on the New Ashford side of Brodie Mountain. The next court hearing on the case is Nov. 13.
Tillinghast, of Mount Washington, helped found Green Berkshires Inc. several years ago to oppose wind turbine projects. She has said in the past that turbines generate “clean” energy but greatly disrupt rural communities with their unnatural noises and lights and decrease property values. She said she hopes to see the documents revealed within the next two months. Green Berkshires has also opposed a proposed wind-turbine project in the town of Florida.
By Bonnie Obremski
18 July 2007
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