HANCOCK – Work could resume as early as mid-October on a wind power project on Brodie Mountain after a settlement was reached in a lawsuit over the placement of some of the turbines.
Under the terms of the deal, which is pending before Massachusetts Land Court, the developer of the wind project has agreed to move three of the turbines, and Silverleaf Resorts, a neighboring condominium project, has agreed to refrain from any further lawsuits.
“We’ve been involved in settlement discussions with Silverleaf for a significant period of time,” said Nicholas Scobbo, attorney for Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corp. “Both sides have worked very hard to come up with a resolution.”
The proposed 10-turbine, 15-megawatt wind turbine facility on Brodie Mountain has been tied up in litigation for almost a year. The cost of the project, estimated at $46 million before the stop-work injunction was ordered last fall, has grown by more than $3 million due to the delay, according to Scobbo.
The lawsuit, filed by Dallas-based Silverleaf Resorts, alleged that the special permit issued by Lanesborough for road access to the construction site had expired before the work began. The state’s land court agreed and issued an injunction against using the access road from Brodie Mountain Road to the construction site on Oct. 7, 2009, effectively halting construction of the wind project.
Silverleaf contended that the sight of three of the turbines, which rise about 385 feet above the ridge line, would negatively impact the sales potential for a $62 million, 324-unit time-share condominium project proposed for a site at the base of Brodie Mountain, directly downhill from the northern-most turbines.
The settlement agreement calls for Berkshire Wind to move two of the three turbines to the south end of the project site, and another 60 feet west from its previously planned location.
Now Berkshire Wind is working with Silverleaf’s support to modify the injunction and obtain a new special use permit from the Lanesborough Zoning Board of Appeals.
The ZBA has set a public hearing on the permit for 7 p.m. Sept. 20 in Town Hall.
Berkshire Wind spokesman Tyler Fairbank labeled the settlement as a “milestone” in the project’s development.
There will be no money exchanged as a result of the settlement, he added.
If the new special permit is approved on Sept. 20, work could begin following a 21-day period set aside for any appeals of the permit, Fairbank said.
Michael J. Brown, senior director of planning and development for Silverleaf Resorts, declined to comment on the settlement or the condominium project, citing a confidentiality agreement.
During the work stoppage, Western Massachusetts Electric Co. installed high capacity distribution lines from a substation in Lanesborough to the Brodie Mountain site and stand ready to connect to the new power supply once it’s ready.
Officials estimate that once operational, Berkshire Wind will generate enough electricity annually to power 6,000 homes.
To date, four of the 10, 1.5-megawatt turbines have been completed, and three more are under construction. The three remaining turbines will be erected on the newly identified locations.
Silverleaf’s past estimates hove shown that the condo project would generate $382,000 in yearly tax revenue for New Ashford and roughly $30 million in annual spending by visitors.
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