SHEFFIELD – Opponents of the wind farm under construction by First Wind of Boston were sent notices by the company last week, warning them not to trespass at the site.
One of those sent a notice via certified mail was Stephanie Kaplan, the attorney representing a group of residents in Sheffield and Sutton who continue to argue against the issuance of a construction stormwater permit on environmental grounds. A final appeal is still before the Vermont Supreme Court and Kaplan said last week she plans to file a motion seeking expedited consideration since the 16 wind turbines are expected at the Sheffield site as early as next week, according to First Wind officials.
On Friday, Kaplan noted in an e-mail, “It’s a mystery to me why they don’t just legally post the site. Maybe sending these notices is more intimidating and therefore more to their way of doing business.”
A spokesman from First Wind said the notice was sent as a safety measure.
The official “NOTICE AGAINST TRESPASS” states, “Please be advised that construction activities associated with the Sheffield Wind Project are ongoing. Due to federal and state safety and other regulations, and other appropriate considerations, individuals may not access the site without permission, and then only with supervision and property safety equipment and training.”
It goes on, stating, “Until otherwise directed, you are hereby notified that you may not enter upon or remain upon any and all lands directly and indirectly being utilized for the Sheffield Wind Project, pursuant to Title 13, Vermont Statues Annotated, Section 3705(A)(1).”
The owners of the land cited are: Meadowsend Timberlands Limited Partnership, Red Dam Conservatory, LLC, Andrew M. Leader, Vermont Wind, LLC, and the legal custodian is Vermont Wind LLC as both Lessee and Owner, the notice specifies.
“The lands directly and indirectly being utilized for the project, and all associated buildings, structures, and other improvements, are located off of Duck Pond Road, Dareios Road, and Annis Brook Road in the Town of Sheffield, Caledonia County, Vermont,” the notice states. It concludes noting, “Please be advised that any unauthorized entry to the property would amount to trespass and could subject you to civil and/or criminal liability.”
John Lamontagne, the director of corporate communications for First Wind said Monday he did not know how many of the certified letters warning people not to trespass had been sent.
“The reason behind the notices,” he said, “is that we’re trying to ensure safety on the site. As work picks up at Sheffield, it will become a busy construction site in which heavy equipment will be used. There are strict safety protocols in place from OSHA and we are doing everything we can to adhere to them,” he said.
Lamontagne said, “In order to maintain safety at the site for workers as well as visitors, we have to ensure that unauthorized visitors are not on the site. We recognize there are some who want to visit the site, and we’ll offer some tours of the site after the construction is completed,” he said. “In addition, we’re going to provide some tours to some others during construction,” including The Caledonian-Record, next week, he noted.
Lamontagne said the site is posted, and makes clear that there is to be no entry of people who are not authorized to work on the site. He said that posting has been up for some time.
Lamontagne said, “It’s been posted, but we’re concerned there have been visitors on the site who have been unaccompanied. We want to maintain a safe workplace.” He said the site has been posted since the fall and more signs warning people not to trespass were added this spring.
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