COLEBROOK—One down, and one to go.
The opponents of a wind power project in town are feeling optimistic that the Connecticut Siting Council will not approve its construction, after a similar project proposed by the same company in the New Haven County town of Prospect was rejected.
The decision on the Prospect project was rendered last week, with the Siting Council determining that the visual impact of the towers was too severe.
The process of reviewing the proposed wind turbines has been messy, with a small scandal causing the recusal and resignation of Connecticut Siting Council chairman Daniel Caruso after it came to light that he had engaged in an inappropriate conversation with one of the intervenors outside of the hearing process.
Greg Zupkus, co-founder and chairman of BNE Energy West-Hartford-based startup that proposed the wind turbines, said he was disappointed in the decision.
“It was disappointing, especially after promoting best practices for wind development from industry experts for months in front of the council and two full days of fact findings by the Siting Council in our favor of WindProspect, that the main response for rejecting the clean wind project was the visual aspect only,” he said. “But in the response we were also very encouraged by the new chairman’s positive comments and his vote in favor of the project.”
Mr. Zupkus added that BNE planned to file an appeal for the Prospect site. He would not speculate on whether the denial indicated that the Colebrook projects were also likely to be denied, but commented that a denial would have a dampening effect on the state’s alternative energy process.
“We think, at this time, the wrong message could be sent to the wind industry if these projects are rejected, but we are still very optimistic that both WindColebrooks are excellent wind projects,” he said. “These two wind projects in Colebrook will also become the largest town taxpayers overnight and produce over four times the green wind power the town uses, making Colebrook the greenest town in Connecticut.”
Joyce Hemingson, chair of Citizens’ Group FairwindCT, which opposed the turbines’ construction, said she is pleased with the decision, and that she saw a Colebrook denial as being likely. She also added that the state legislature was working toward adopting regulations for wind power. Presently, there are none.
“I think there’s a good chance of that, whether or not it will be for the same reasons. We were surprised by the visual impact being the main reason for them to deny it in Prospect,” she said.
Ms. Hemingson noted that there were 51 residences within 2,000 feet of the Prospect turbine site, and 129 within a half mile. While Colebrook doesn’t have quite as many, she noted the “significant wetlands” around its area and the presence of Rock Hall Luxe Lodging, a nearby bed-and-breakfast that is attempting to use its place on the National Register of Historic Places. They serve as leverage against the towers being built, she said.
A final decision on the Colebrook site will be rendered by the siting council in June.
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