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Wind farm opponents hire lawyer

SHELBURNE FALLS – An environmental litigation lawyer has been hired to represent several Shelburne and Buckland residents opposed to a commercial wind farm proposed for Mount Massaemet.

Thomas Lesser of Lesser, Newman & Nasser LLP of Northampton said Friday that he has been hired by area residents who have been attending Shelburne board meetings and speaking out regarding the Mount Massaemet Windfarm Inc. proposal to place eight 2.5-megawatt turbines along Mount Massaemet, just north of Route 2 and the village of Shelburne Falls.

“The applicant has provided remarkably little information at this point in time,” said Lesser. “In our opinion, the amount of information provided to date is not enough to even move forward (with the special permit hearing) and should result in immediate rejection of the application.”

When asked who hired him, Lesser said only that it was “a large group of people.”

Lesser said he plans to attend the Zoning Board of Appeals special permit hearing on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall.

At its meeting this week, the Planning Board told wind farm applicant Frederick D. Field that more information was needed before it could make any recommendation to the ZBA regarding the special permit.

Field said he intends to bring more detailed information about his project, including visualizations of the turbines from various perspectives, to the ZBA hearing.

Besides writing letters to Shelburne town boards and writing letters in local newspapers, the group has set up a website that gives the group’s perspective and includes a “Zoning Board Tool Kit” to explain the public hearing process, and a copy of Shelburne’s special permit bylaw. The website also includes simulations of how Ashfield landscape architects Dodson & Associates thinks the 469-foot structures would look from Shelburne Falls and from the Patten Hill area. There is also a scale of the size by landscape architect Walter Cudnohufsky.

“There’s a pretty extensive email list,” said Lamia Holland of Buckland, one of the group’s organizers. “We are sharing meeting minutes and other information.” She said the mailing list includes people from other nearby towns. “I think the main point of the whole group is to get people involved, so that they realize this project is going to have a big impact on Shelburne Falls – and that the Zoning Board is going to be deciding it.”

When asked if he wanted to comment on any of the actions taken by opponents to the wind farm proposal, Field repeated that he plans to come to Thursday’s hearing with more information.

He also said he had already seen the “Shelburne Wind” website.

“It’s quite a nice website,” Field remarked. When asked what he thought of the site’s contents, he said, “I think the stuff comes right straight off the Internet – and you can get both sides of the issue off the Internet.”

“We’ve got to answer them, that’s all,” he said.

On the Web: http://shelburnewind.info