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Wind farm developer fighting to keep Colebrook B&B owners out of case

BNE Energy has asked the Connecticut Siting Council to reject a request by the owners of a Colebrook bed and breakfast to participate in the Council’s review of the company’s petition to construct six, 400-foot-tall commercial wind turbines in Colebrook.

Michael and Stella Somers, the owner of Rock Hall Luxe Lodging, say BNE ignored the resort’s status as a historic home when it drew up proposed plans to place two commercial wind turbines – one within one-half mile of the resort and the other within 1.5 miles from the lodge.

The lodge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places last July. And the Somers maintain that BNE, a West Hartford firm, discounted and ignored the adverse affect the wind turbines would have on the historic property.

The Somers’ says that the proposed wind turbines will have a “direct negative impact on the…use and enjoyment of their property and will threaten the continued commercial viability of Rock Hall.”

BNE is asking the Connecticut Siting Council, to approve two proposed wind turbine developments in the towns of Colebrook and Prospect. BNE plans to sell the energy generated by the proposed wind farms to local utilities.

In its petition BNE says the council should deny the Somers’ request for several reasons, including the fact that the Somers’ concerns are irrelevant under the Siting Council’s guidelines.

“BNE need only establish that the proposed project complies with air and water quality standards of the Department of Environmental Protection. Therefore, the issue of whether the proposed project will have an adverse effect on the Somers’ property is irrelevant to the Council’s decision making criteria,” the firm’s petition states.

Under state law, the Connecticut Siting Council, a nine-member council, has sole jurisdiction over the placement of wind turbines. The Council’s next meeting on the topic is expected to take place Jan. 20.

More residents of Colebrook, Winchester and Norfolk are planning to file similar petitions, said Joyce Hemingson, president of FairWindCt, a Colebrook citizens group that opposes BNE’s proposed wind farm development.

“There are more homeowners along Flag Hill Road and Greenwood’s Turnpike, a short road off Route 44, that plan to file for party status,” Hemingson said.

In one of his final actions as Attorney General, Sen. Richard Blumenthal called upon state regulators to develop clearer standards regulating commercial wind farm developments and allow local government and citizens groups to have a voice in where wind turbines are located.

FairWindCt is calling for a moratorium on the approval of commercial wind farm developments until regulations governing their location in residential areas are established.