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Judge reaffirms restraining order in Lowell Mountain case

(Host) Protesters challenging construction of a wind project in the Northeast Kingdom town of Lowell must stay 1,000 feet away from a blasting zone or risk being found in contempt of court.

That’s according to a restraining order that was re-affirmed yesterday by Orleans Superior Court Judge Martin Maley.

Maley told Green Mountain Power that it can contact sheriffs if it needs to have his order enforced and the protesters removed.

(Maley) “They’re clearly doing that in contravention of the order. And whether or not there has to be the sheriff sent out there to have them physically removed while this order is still in place, that’s what is going to have to be done.”

(Host) Maley’s order is aimed at the dozen or so people who are occupying private property near where GMP is using explosives to remove rock and ledge for a road along the ridgeline.

The judge says the people have to move away from the blasting zone one hour before and one hour after blasting is to occur.

(Maley) “It is indeed a court order and it sounds to the court that it’s being violated. I’m not saying the defendant’s violating it. But these third parties are there and are making a mockery, making a mockery of the order. And the court’s not going to stand for that, at least not while the matter is pending.”

(Host) The judge made his decision at the end of a three-hour hearing in Newport.

GMP sued retired farmers Don and Shirley Nelson, whose land adjoins the site of the wind project. The Nelsons’ land has been used for demonstrations against the project.

Lawyers for the two sides argued over a disputed property line and who was responsible for the project slipping behind schedule.

The judge continued the hearing, but he said his order will remain in effect for 10 days.