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Wind opponents have not 'thrown in the towel' – yet

SHEFFIELD –First Wind project opponents have not thrown in the towel in their battle to derail the erection of 16 turbines more than 400 feet tall.

In fact this week, Stephanie Kaplan, the attorney representing a group of neighbors and the King George School of Sutton, filed a motion fighting First Wind’s request of trial transcripts in the case.

Those copies would have to be paid for by the neighbors – not First Wind. Kaplan said the neighbors do not have deep pockets and cannot afford more legal costs, which she said are not necessary nor pertinent to the final appeal before the state’s highest court.

In a four-page motion Kaplan filed Tuesday in Vermont Supreme Court, she argued that First Wind’s motion seeking portions of trial transcripts in the case “are not necessary because the issues raised by the appellants in their brief are solely legal issues and there are no factual issues that require considering of trial testimony for the court’s resolution of the issues on appeal.”

The group of property owners in both Sheffield and Sutton are hoping that an amended storm-water construction permit issued by the Vermont Environmental Court and upheld in an appeal, will be reconsidered and overturned.

Kaplan writes that First Wind’s attorneys need the testimony of two witnesses “to respond to appellants’ claim that the trial court ‘did not require any monitoring of streams … In fact, the environmental division correctly concluded, based in part on Mr. Nelson’s and Mr. Burke’s testimony, that the specific monitoring required by the permit was fully protective of water quality.

“The issue as framed by the appellee [First Wind] – whether ‘the specific monitoring required by the permit was fully protective of water quality’ – was not raised by the appellants,” Kaplan states.

First Wind is also seeking the transcript of a third Vermont Agency of Natural Resources witness in the issuance of the permit, Rich Langdon, saying it needs that to “respond to the appellants’ claim that remand to ANR was necessary to allow ANR to develop its position on baseline monitoring.”

Kaplan argues against that, saying, “This is a separate issue from whether ANR staff testified at the trial that a remand would have been ‘fruitless.’ Had ANR undertaken the required Anti-Degradation analysis during its review of the application, the public would have had an opportunity to comment on the quality and scope of any available information pertinent to the requirements of the Anti-Degradation Policy, an opportunity that was not provided.”

John Lamontagne, First Wind corporate communications director, said Thursday the company, on reviewing Kaplan’s latest motion filed in Vermont Supreme Court, did not wish to comment.