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Lowell protesters to appeal – Nelsons pursue civil claim against GMP

LOWELL – Don and Shirley Nelson’s attorneys filed a trespass claim in Superior Court, Orleans Unit, Civil Division as part of their motion for a temporary restraining order against Green Mountain Power (GMP).

In the meantime, “Mountain Occupiers,” individuals protesting the construction of the GMP wind project on Lowell Mountain, say they will file an emergency appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court of a restraining order issued last week by Judge Martin Maley.

The Nelsons say GMP is trespassing on a portion of property that is actually theirs and that, during blasting on October 28, debris – including particles, a piece of blasting mat, and possibly some pieces of stone – fell on their property. Two witnesses near the construction site provided written affidavits to support the claim.

GMP admitted to a piece of blasting mat landing on the Nelson’s property but denies any other material was involved.

Judge Maley Tuesday said in a ruling that there was not sufficient evidence to support a temporary restraining order by the Nelsons against GMP, although he did grant such an order on behalf of GMP against the Nelsons.

“Defendants (the Nelsons) have not shown the court that money damages cannot provide adequate compensation in the event that GMP is trespassing by casting particles on their land,” Maley wrote in his decision.

The Nelsons say the boundary line is incorrect and that GMP is constructing on their land. The Nelsons state that the true boundary line between their property and the land being leased by GMP is between 156 to 181 feet within the line claimed by GMP.

The Nelsons offered testimony by Surveyor Paul Hannan who asserted that a portion of the crane path will encroach upon land belonging to the Nelsons.

GMP offered testimony from two surveyors who disputed Hannan’s report. GMP’s surveyors are supported by a survey recorded in 2002, which contains an agreed upon boundary line between the Nelsons and the owner of the neighboring land, Benjamin “Trip” Wileman.

“The court cannot determine based on the evidence presented where the true boundary line is,” Maley wrote. However, the Nelsons have set fourth prima facie case of trespass,” he added. The judge noted that this has to do with the boundary dispute, not flying rock cast on to the Nelson property.

The ruling Tuesday was part of an ongoing battle between GMP and the Nelsons. GMP is working to construct 21 wind turbines on Lowell Ridge line behind the Nelson’s home.

Campers have been occupying the ridgeline on the Nelson property near the construction site hoping to stop or slow the project. Maley’s order gave law enforcement authority to arrest the “Mountain Occupiers” for contempt of court.