DERBY – Two determined Derby residents have talked Select Board Chairman Brian Smith into considering the idea that Derby should participate in the state hearing process over the Derby Line wind project.
Whether a majority of the board will want to intervene will be decided next week.
Smith, a supporter of the project, originally opposed having the town participate in the regulatory hearings before the Vermont Public Service Board.
“I don’t think we should have party status,” Smith said. “This wind mill is going on someone’s private property. It’s none of my business.”
But Vicky and Daniel Lewis argued repeatedly Monday evening that Smith and the board have the responsibility “to serve all of the citizens of this town.”
Smith finally agreed to have a select board discussion about it. He said the board would hear what Derby residents have to say at a public PSB hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 1 at the Derby Elementary School. Then the select board will make a decision at a special select board meeting on Friday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the Derby town office.
Smith said he did not want to make a decision about becoming a party or an “intervenor” in the PSB hearing process without a full board present. Only three of five selectmen attended Monday’s regular meeting.
A petition is circulating in Derby and Holland opposing the project.
Also Monday, the board learned that the Derby town plan requires the planning commission to consider the impact on the bylaws, development and irreplaceable or environmentally sensitive areas.
The Derby planning commission will discuss the impact at Monday’s regular meeting at 7 p.m.
Commission Chairman Joe Profera resisted having to discuss a project that is beyond the control of local officials but said he would have the discussion.
Vicky Lewis, who lives a mile from where the turbines would be located, admitted that she has gone from curious to worried about the project. But she said that shouldn’t matter to the board.
She also worried that the full board would opt not to intervene. She was so concerned that she was talking Monday after the meeting about whether to cancel a planned vacation to attend the March 2 meeting.
A majority of the board – Smith, Laura Dolgin and Steve Gendreau – have already either expressed support for the two turbines planned for Derby farms near the border or are not opposed.
Selectwoman Karen Jenne is opposed, while Beula Jean Shattuck said Monday she is neutral but believes residents should have their questions answered.
Vicky Lewis raised a series of questions about impact on property values, the cost to ratepayers and impacts on neighbors’ health.
Smith said he felt like he was being ganged up on by Jenne and the Lewises. But he was willing to listen.
“I think they are reasonable questions,” Smith said.
The project has also created divisions within the town.
Jenne had asked to represent the town at last week’s pre-hearing, but others opposed it, including Dolgin.
Now Jenne is upset about how Dolgin described that discussion in the minutes she took.
Those minutes will be argued over at the next meeting.
And Jenne and the Lewises complained that Zoning Administrator Bob Kelley was unethical when he drove to the pre-hearing in Montpelier and gave a ride to dairy farmer Bryan Davis.
Davis is hoping to put one of the turbines on his Grandview Farm.
Kelley said he was on town time and was paid mileage to attend the hearing in order to listen and report back to the full board. He said he does support the project and was just giving a lift to a fellow Derby Line resident.
He said that he had no authority over what the town does with that information and did not even speak at the pre-hearing. “I have absolutely no say on this project,” he said. “None whatsoever.”
And Shattuck questioned Kelley about why he did not know that the town bylaws required the planning commission to look at the impact of the wind projects.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding