Dozens packed the Derby town select board meeting Wednesday night as the board prepared to take an official position on a proposal to build two 425 foot wind turbines in town.
“Potential negative impact to resident’s property values town wide on both sides of the border,” said an opponent.
The town selectboard took public comment for 15 minutes. Most people spoke against the project. And so the board says it too will oppose it. And share its position with Vermont Public Service Board.
“I think there was a stacked deck here tonight, there weren’t too many people here in favor of the project, and I understand why some people are opposed to it,” said select board chairman Brian Smith.
Terry Hartley is concerned about the proposal to build the wind turbines on farmland just feet from the U.S.-Canada border, and close to his hone in Standstead, Quebec.
“Yes, I am concerned about the view, but I’m very concerned about the health impacts. We also have wildlife, we have eagles, we have geese, we have falcons, and we have hawks. And I don’t want the turbines hitting them,” Hartley said.
While the project has its opponents, others who live near the proposed sites aren’t as worried.
“It doesn’t concern me. They’ll do it if they want to do it, I don’t care,” said Diana Kinney of Derby.
Reporter Matt Henson: You aren’t afraid of them?
Kinney: Not one bit.
“If I thought there was any health aspects to this I would be the last one to do it,” said Bryan Davis of Grand View Farm.
Burlington-based Encore Redevelopment wants to build one turbine on a ridgeline on Bryan Davis’s Grand View Farm and another on nearby Smugglers Hill Farms. Each turbine would create enough energy to power the farms and 900 homes in the community.
“This wind turbine would be another source of revenue for us to even out the dips in the milk prices,” Davis said.
But the turbines would be highly visible from Stanstead, Quebec. And the debate became even more heated this week when the mayor of Stanstead threatened to shut off the water supply to Beebie Plain unless the turbines are moved back from the border. The Canadian community provides water service to about 50 homes in the village that lies within the town of Derby.
“Why should I accommodate the town of Derby by furnishing water when they aren’t even thinking about accommodating me?” Stanstead Mayor Philippe Dutil said.
“I think he should realize threats are not the way to make things happen. Conversations would have worked better than threats,” said Brian Smith, chair of the Derby select board.
An issue not just dividing a community– but two countries.
“They just don’t come and put one turbine or two turbines, it’s a wind farm they are after,” Hartley said.
“We’ve done our own research, talked to people over in New York state that have them on their own dairy farms. They’re not harmful to the cows and the farmers and their hired help live all among them. I have not been able to find anybody that has any issues,” Davis said.
The Vermont Public Service Board is currently reviewing the two projects and will have the ultimate say if the turbines will be built. Davis hopes to have an answer later this summer.
Neighboring communities don’t really have any say about the projects, but Encore Redevelopment is reportedly offering tens of thousands of dollars annually over a 20-year period if the communities support the project publicly.