COLEBROOK – In order to get a better handle on BNE Energy’s proposed wind turbines in town, Connecticut Siting Council went out to see the area in person.
Eight of the nine council members walked through the two parcels Tuesday afternoon, surveying the locations of the proposed turbines off of Flagg Hill Road and Rock Hall Road. Chairman Daniel Caruso said the walk-through, as well as a couple of intermediate stops to talk to residents, was an essential part to gauging the winds of opinion. (Check back later today for a story on the Siting Council’s hearing Tuesday.)
“When we do a field review, we want to actually see the property,” said Mr. Caruso. “What we did specially here was to stop at various places and see what the neighbors might see.”
BNE Energy had made several tweaks to the proposed turbine locations and arrangement. One turbine on the Rock Hall Road parcel – Colebrook North, as the project is named – was relocated, with the council members seeing both the alternate and original locations. Another turbine at Colebrook South, the Flagg Hill Road project, was rotated to face another direction due to the orientation of the blades.
“It looks different than when it’s on the map,” Mr. Caruso said. “It’s a big walk, and we want to try and envision where things are going to be.”
The council members were joined by other interested parties, including BNE Energy president Gregory Zupkus and opposition parties, including Mark Palmer and Joyce Hemingson of FairwindCT. Mr. Palmer later testified at the public hearings, leading Mr. Caruso to ask if his feet had “dried out yet” after the slushy trek through BNE Energy’s properties. Mr. Palmer responded, “I enjoyed the hike, and no, they haven’t.”
The serpentine paths through the Colebrook South project were necessary due to unfinished work. A proposed access road is not yet complete, and the level of brush forced the walkt-hrough to climb up hills and plod through wetlands to get to the potential sites.
“It seems like a lot of roads and a lot of disturbance to get to all the sites,” said Ms. Hemingson. “It’s also close to two property owners that were on the walk.”
Ms. Hemingson, along with Sukie Wagner and Jeff Stauffer, were some of the residents opposed to the turbines to take the tour. Members of the public were welcome to follow the council members, but as Ms. Hemingson noted, they could not provide input at this time. FairwindCT has been named a party in both petitions for the wind turbines, and as such, they are limited to providing pre-submitted testimony and cross-examination, which will be heard Wednesday at 3 p.m. in an evidentiary hearing.
“You’re not supposed to ask them questions during the site walk,” Ms. Hemingson said. “That’s for the public hearing.”
Mr. Zupkus spoke to the potential benefits of the turbines, as well as the preparation his company had already put in. A meteorological tower already on site at Colebrook South has been measuring the level of wind since December 2008, and a similar tower is in place at Colebrook North.
“This gives everybody an opportunity to see just how far these units are located from things like roads, houses and property lines,” said consultant Joel Reinbold.
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