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Judge: Lowell Wind farm protesters can be arrested

Protesters on private property within 1,000 feet of a blasting zone that is part of an industrial wind power project under construction on Lowell Mountain can be arrested if they don’t move when ordered to do so, a state judge ruled Tuesday.

Superior Court Judge Martin Maley issued the order at the request of the Green Mountain Power company, which is building a road to the top of the mountain where the 21-turbine wind farm is being built.

The order says people in the blasting zone on private land owned by Don and Shirley Nelson must move at least two hours before the scheduled blast and remain out of the area until the all-clear whistle has sounded.

Law enforcement authorities can go onto the Nelsons’ land and inform the protesters of the order, which says, “Persons who refuse to move away from the boundary as directed by this order shall be removed, arrested and, after being properly identified, issued a citation to appear before this court.”

Blasting takes place on the mountain every day, but not necessarily in the area near the Nelsons, Green Mountain Power spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said. She said she didn’t know when police would be asked to enforce the judge’s order. She said efforts were still being made to get the protesters to move voluntarily with the help of a mediator.

“We’re hopeful they can make their statement without putting themselves and others at
risk,” Schnure said. “It’s all about safety for us.”

The protesters object to the project because they see it as the despoiling of a pristine mountain for little environmental gain. As part of their ongoing protest, a small number have been camping on the Nelsons’ land near where Green Mountain Power is blasting.

Don Nelson said Tuesday he wouldn’t keep the protesters off the remote corner of his land, nor would be enforce the order issued on behalf of Green Mountain Power.

“They’re going up on other peoples’ land and then coming onto mine,” Nelson said. “I don’t stop people going up and down a public road. If Green Mountain Power wants to stop them, they can. I’m tired of it. I’m sick of the whole thing and have been for some time.”

None of the protesters on the mountain Tuesday could be reached for comment. But Craftsbury resident Steve Wright, who supports their goals and has been meeting with them regularly, said he didn’t know what the protesters, who vary in number from two or three to a dozen or more, would do if faced with arrest.

“People are free to act on their own judgment and based on what they feel they need to do,” Wright said. “The only advice that we have been offering to any folks in that contest is stay safe and be respectful of the authorities and do whatever you need to do.”