Albany and Craftsbury towns say state regulators need more information about new conservation easements for the Lowell wind project before making a decision.
The effect of the towns’ comment would be to bring construction of the Lowell wind project to a stop effective Dec. 31 and for some time afterward.
State regulators on the Vermont Public Service Board gave wind developer Green Mountain Power until the end of the year to put together a conservation easement package in mitigation for wildlife fragmentation being caused by the Lowell wind project.
The package, which includes $1 million worth of new easements in Eden of nearly 1,700 acres, has the support of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.
Jared Margolis, the attorney for Albany and Craftsbury, wrote Dec. 21 that ANR did not comment in early December when GMP filed its easement plan for board approval. The easement package was filed with the board the day after the deal was signed. GMP officials said it took nearly a year to pull together the deal, which included two private property owners and the Vermont Land Trust.
ANR did file its supporting letter and documents Dec. 21, which was the deadline for comment on the easements.
But Margolis said that doesn’t give the towns time to react to the ANR memo.
He asked for another two weeks to comment – which would move the end of the comment period to Jan. 4. And that would put a temporary stop on construction at the wind site while the board deliberated on the comments and the package.
Margolis also said that the towns wanted a map to see where the parcels to be conserved under the Vermont Land Trust are located.
They would have liked to see the existing conservation plans for the area in Eden in the deal, which Margolis said was not included with the filing with the board.
“This lack of transparency should concern the board, which must wonder what GMP is trying to hide by not providing all the information they have,” Margolis wrote.
“Furthermore, GMP should not be allowed to continue construction after Dec. 31 while this review takes place. Any delay in reviewing the materials and approving the easements is entirely the fault of GMP, which waited until December to file the easements, and failed to provide sufficient information, such as a map, conservation plans and baseline information, or any expert opinion regarding the easements – all of which is necessary for adequate review of the easements,” Margolis wrote. “A sufficient opportunity for the parties to review and comment on these materials should be provided in order for the board to make a supportable decision.”
Margolis also said that the towns question whether logging and sugaring are consistent with the proposed idea of conserving land from development to stop the fragmentation of wildlife corridors.
He asked about the impact of sap gathering tubes used by modern sugar makers and the impacts of snowmobile trails.
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