GMP this week sought to solve the impasse by offering to buy the Nelsons' 580-acre farm. The couple have been trying to sell the property for years, they said, but when GMP offered them their asking price of $1.25 million, they raised it to $2.25 million, saying GMP could have it for $2 million if it agreed to the purchase by noon Thursday.
The company developing a wind power project in northern Vermont said Thursday that it can safely proceed with blasting even if a neighbor refuses to ask campers who have pitched tents inside a safety zone to leave.
Dorothy Schnure, spokeswoman for Green Mountain Power, said the work would have to go more slowly than the company had planned, adding costs to the project. GMP said it may try to recover the additional costs in a lawsuit against neighbors Don and Shirley Nelson.
The Nelsons, former dairy farmers in their late 60s, have allowed campers to pitch tents on their property, but close enough to its western boundary to cause GMP’s blasting contractor to stop work, at least temporarily.
There had been fear that rocks flying from the blasting could hurt people within 1,000 feet, but Schnure said crews can use more “blasting mats” – blankets of rubber and steel laid on top of the area to be blown up.
She said work would resume today, but any blasting that might occur imminently would be on a part of the mountain away from the campers.
GMP won state approval this year for an estimated $156 million project to build 21 wind turbines that are more than 400 feet tall and are projected to produce enough power for about 24,000 homes.
GMP this week sought to solve the impasse by offering to buy the Nelsons’ 580-acre farm. The couple have been trying to sell the property for years, they said, but when GMP offered them their asking price of $1.25 million, they raised it to $2.25 million, saying GMP could have it for $2 million if it agreed to the purchase by noon Thursday.
“It’s high-stakes poker. They blinked Monday,” by offering to buy the farm, Nelson said in an interview Thursday.
The full-price offer came in a phone call from GMP CEO Mary Powell on Tuesday morning, Nelson said. That afternoon, a courier delivered a letter from the company threatening to sue and saying the couple could be liable for more than $1 million.
That’s why he raised his asking price, Nelson said.
“If you’ve got a threat of a lawsuit of a million dollars, you kind of want to add that on just in case,” he said.
Nelson said he hadn’t invited the campers onto his property, but welcomed them. “It was someone else’s idea,” he said. “I think it’s great. The more the merrier. I wish I had electricity and running water up there.”
For its part, GMP said its offer of $1.25 million was no longer on the table.
“We basically communicated to them that if they returned the property to its original listing price of $1.25 million, we will consider submitting a new offer,” Schnure said.
“It’s all in the Nelsons’ hands right now,” she said. “The easiest way to resolve this right now is they can suggest to their friends that they move back while we’re blasting, which is once or twice a day. That would resolve the issue.”
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