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Derby board argues about Derby Line wind project

The Derby Board of Selectmen will be represented at a meeting Monday before state regulators about the Derby Line wind project.

But Selectman Karen Jenne, who opposes the project, won’t be speaking on behalf of the board.

Jenne offered to represent selectmen’s interests at what’s called a pre-hearing conference before the Vermont Public Service Board in Montpelier. The board will look at the issues being raised by those interested in the project before figuring out a hearing schedule and inviting people, towns and state agencies to apply to become parties in the hearings.

Speaking at Monday’s selectmen’s meeting, Jenne said selectmen gave her the go-ahead to ask questions from Chad Farrell of Encore Redevelopment.

Encore has applied for certificates of public good from the PSB erect two industrial-size turbines on two farm fields near Derby Line and Interstate 91 on the U.S.-Canadian border.

Selectman Laura Dolgin, a supporter of wind turbines, called the idea of giving Jenne permission to represent the board a “risky” proposition.

“It’s too risky. I don’t condone it,” Dolgin said. “I don’t think she’s the person to do it.”

Derby Board of Selectmen Chairman Brian Smith agreed.

“I wouldn’t want you to express the opinion of the board,” Smith said.

He suggested that Jenne could go as a citizen of Derby Line who has questions. Jenne is also the elected village clerk in Derby Line.

Selectman Beula Jean Shattuck said Jenne could go as a selectman representing constituents who are opposed to the project.

Jenne said she would attend the pre-hearing meeting on her own and not on behalf of the board.

Smith asked Derby Zoning Administrator Bob Kelley to attend the pre-hearing meeting.

Kelley said he would go and listen and report back to the board.

The developers want to return to Derby sometime later this month to talk about the project and answer community questions, Smith said.

Farrell wants to bring representatives from Altona, N.Y., where there is a large wind farm, to meet with Derby residents, Smith said.

Farrell had offered to speak at a breakfast meeting in two weeks, Smith said. But other selectmen said that wouldn’t be a good time of day for working people.

Smith said he would try to arrange an evening meeting sometime soon.

Also Monday, selectmen adopted a proposed town budget of $2.33 million.

The budget is up from the current voter-approved budget of $2.185 million. But the proposed budget is less than what the town actually spent in 2011, at $2.47 million, Smith said.

The increase in spending reflected higher costs for road repairs and work after a lot of damage from flooding and Tropical Storm Irene and was offset by increases in revenues.

The budget increase is offset by a $313,000 surplus from 2011, which will be used to reduce the amount to be raised by taxes, Smith said.

Weather continues to be a factor on the town, with the icy winter affecting roads.

Selectmen approved the purchase of more sand for back roads this winter.

“The sand pile is pretty thin,” said Selectman Steve Gendreau, road commissioner.