NEW BRITAIN – BNE Energy chairman Paul Corey faced questions about site access during the latest round of evidentiary hearings on a pair of proposed wind turbines in Colebrook.
Mr. Corey was one of several parties to appear before the Connecticut Siting Council for cross-examination on the two parts of a proposed six-turbine wind farm. The projects are expected to generate four times the amount of energy consumed in Colebrook, but have been controversial because of their location in residential areas. Mr. Corey, along with several other experts, testified on a number of subjects, including noise levels and accessing the site of Colebrook South, located on Flagg Hill Road.
Currently, vehicles access the site using a driveway at 29A Flagg Hill Road. The house belongs to Robin Hirtle, one of the members of FairwindCT and a party to the proceedings. There is an easement on the driveway that limits its use to residential purposes. Robin Hirtle initiated legal action against BNE Energy due to their use of the driveway in December, and the case is still being heard in Connecticut Superior Court.
“We will utilize our driveway,” Mr. Corey said, “until the courts say otherwise.”
Mr. Corey asserted that the driveway will only be used until an access road can be built at 17 Flagg Hill Road, a property owned by BNE Energy. Richard Roznoy, the attorney representing Robin Hirtle, pressed Corey on the use of the driveway, much to the annoyance of acting Connecticut Siting Council chairman Robin Stein.
“I’m not sure why we’re continuing,” the chairman said about the questions. “I think you made it clear that issue’s before the courts.”
Mr. Roznoy had earlier asked Mr. Corey how the site could be accessed before the access road’s construction. BNE Energy’s counsel, Carrie Larson, objected to the repeated questions, stating that the substance of the lawsuit “is for the court to decide, not the council.”
The siting council chairman agreed, but Mr. Corey answered anyway, asserting that BNE Energy would use the road once it was constructed. Mr. Roznoy promptly objected, asking that Mr. Corey’s response be stricken from the record. the chairman denied Mr. Roznoy’s objection, stating that he could not object to an answer that he simply found unsatisfactory.
Robin Stein, who is awaiting confirmation by the State Senate, and serving as acting chairman, was appointed after former chairman David Caruso’s resignation March 24. Mr. Caruso stepped down after allegations of ex parte communications with the attorney for Save Prospect, another group opposed to BNE Energy’s plans for wind energy in the state.
One of Mr. Caruso’s last acts was the on-site visit for both Colebrook wind energy sites. The walkthrough at Colebrook South took the Connecticut Siting Council members and other interested parties up the site of the potential access road at 17 Flagg Hill Road.
Mr. Corey also affirmed that if Flagg Hill Road needed to be improved to facilitate the construction of the turbines, BNE Energy would foot the bill. Mr. Corey also did not object to the siting council potentially making approval of the petitions contingent on BNE Energy paying for improvements to Flagg Hill Road. Should Colebrook need to provide engineers and other services, Mr. Corey said his company would reimburse the town at a “reasonable cost.”
Evidentiary hearings on the two Colebrook turbines were scheduled to continue Wednesday at the Connecticut Siting Council’s headquarters in New Britain. According to the Connecticut Siting Council’s schedule, a decision must be reached by June 11, and draft findings of fact are due May 19.
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