COLEBROOK – Residents are raising their voices against a proposed wind turbine farm.
BNE Energy Inc. is proposing the construction of six 328-foot wind turbines on two pieces of land in town.
In a previous interview with The Winsted Journal, BNE spokesman Paul Corey said the company plans to construct three wind turbines on 80 acres of property on 29 Flagg Hill Road, while the other three would be constructed on 125 acres of property at the corner of Route 44 and Rock Hall Road.
While BNE Energy owns the Flagg Hill property, the Rock Hall Road property is privately owned and will be leased by the company.
This has drawn the ire of resident Joyce Hemingson, who has formed the activist organization FairWindCT.
Hemingson, of Rock Hall Road, said she lives just down the street from where BNE is proposing to build its wind farm.
“When [residents] found out about the Rock Hall and Flag Hill applications at a town meeting in November, people were surprised,” Hemingson said. “We formed the group to see what we could do to educate ourselves and the town about what is being proposed. We found out that there are no real [state] regulations when it comes to large wind turbines.”
Because of the lack of regulations, Hemingson said the group is calling for a moratorium on the construction of wind turbine farms.
“The state’s Siting Council has regulations for cell towers, but nothing for large wind turbines,” she said. “There are no regulations that say how many feet away a turbine should be from a property line or a residence. This is mostly because the application goes to the state’s Siting Council. It does not [need to be approved] by a town’s planning and zoning board or inlands wetlands regulations.”
Hemingson said that the group has around 50 members and, despite the fact that group’s website at fairwindct.com has a graphic of a wind turbine with a line through it, the group is neither for or against wind powered energy.
“No one is saying stop wind energy,” Hemingson said. “We are saying let’s pause before we roll it out through the state to see what makes sense.”
One of the members of the group is Stella Somers, who with her husband, Michael, co-owns Rock Hall Luxe Lodging, a bed and breakfast inn on 19 Rock Hall Road.
Somers said she is very much against the proposed project.
“I think that it will surely be the end of our business if the turbines are constructed,” Somers said. “People come to [the bed and breakfast] because of the serenity and to escape from noise and commotion. It won’t be the case if the wind turbines are approved. We will not be able to go outside or enjoy our homes anymore because we will be half a mile away from the turbines.”
Both Stella and Michael Somers have filed for party status with the Siting Council for the proposed wind turbine project.
If granted by the council, party status would allow the Somerses to pre-file testimony and questions, present witnesses and cross-examine participants.
However, BNE Energy has filed objections with the Siting Council over the request by the Somerses.
In the company’s objection, which was provided to The Winsted Journal by Hemingson, company attorney Carrie Larson claims that “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. In order to obtain approval from this council, BNE need only [to] establish that the proposed project complies with air and water quality standards of the Department of Environmental Protection.”
In a previous interview, BNE spokesman Paul Corey said the impact of the turbines, if constructed, would be minimal.
“There is only a handful of homes on both roads, and we don’t think it will have a substantial impact to other people’s properties,” Corey said. “We think that the impact of the wind turbines will be positive.”
According to Hemingson, the Siting Council will meet next on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 2 p.m. at the office on 10 Franklin Square in New Britain to discuss the proposed project.
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