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Holland pulls Wonson out of Derby wind debate

HOLLAND – The Holland Select Board Monday night decided that Mitch Wonson would no longer represent the board in the Derby Line wind project. This follows on the heels of Wonson being defeated by Aaron Nadeau for a position on the Holland Planning Commission at the last Town Meeting.

Wonson was on the Holland Planning Commission in 2007 and wrote the town plan. The plan recommended the adoption of a town policy on commercial energy generation facilities, and a policy was adopted in November. That policy is now on hold in Holland after some uproar occurred in the town.

A committee is working on defining commercial energy facilities. Wonson is on that committee. He says, however, that the policy is still in effect for surrounding towns, such as the proposed Derby wind project.

According to Brett Farrow, the chair person of the Holland Select Board, many Holland farmers are concerned that they would not be able to build turbines on their farms based on the wording of the policy in the town plan.

Wonson was appointed to the planning commission in 2011 to update the town plan, which was set to expire, and to write the policy. Wonson was also appointed in 2011 to represent the Holland Select Board in matters relating to the proposed wind turbine project in Derby Line, near the Holland town line.

Farrow said that Wonson came across as anti-wind and did not accurately depict the true feelings of the town. Farrow said the town really wants answers about the project.

“Mitch has some very good ideas, but we believe he is more anti-wind than we are. What we’re after are answers.” Farrow said the town’s questions relate to health effects, noise, and property values.

When asked for comment regarding the situation, Wonson made the following statement: “It’s unfortunate when personal aspersions and unfounded allegations are used to further someone’s agenda. I am not anti-wind. I believe that because I raised questions of importance on the impacts of the Derby Wind project on the Town of Holland, I was perceived as anti-wind. My thousands of pages of research reveal that the negative impacts on property values and human health have occurred in other communities as a result of industrial wind turbines. Through me, the town has consistently requested information from the developer, who had yet to fully address the town’s concerns.”

Holland sent a list of questions to the Derby wind project developer, Encore Redevelopment of Burlington. Chad Farrell with Encore responded but did not fully answer the questions, Farrow confirmed.

Holland two weeks ago hired attorney Richard Saudek of Montpelier to represent the town in seeking intervener status in the Public Service Board’s proceedings for the project.

Encore is seeking to construct two wind turbines – more than 400 feet tall at the tip of the blade – on two farms just east of the Village of Derby Line. The proposal is generating heated controversy with strong feeling on both sides of the project.

Farrow said he doesn’t know if the majority of Holland residents support it or not, as he is hearing strong opinions either way.

Encore has proposed offering the town a $15,000 annual payment for the life of the wind project, but no agreement is in place on the issue.