NEWARK – The Newark Planning Commission has come out against a proposal to site test towers for a possible future wind farm here and in two other communities.
The commission submitted a 10-page response to the Vermont Public Service Board on the proposal by Eolian Renewable Energy of Portsmouth, N.H., for the “Seneca Mountain Wind” project.
The commission asserts that the proposal is not in conformance with Newark’s Town Plan, and argues why it is not the kind of activity Newark wants to occur.
The response to Eolian’s application for a nearly 200-foot-high wind tower to be placed in Newark argues against the PSB issuing a Certificate of Public Good for the temporary meteorological stations.
Seneca Mountain Wind LLC wants to place three MET towers on high-elevation ridgelines in Newark, Brighton and Ferdinand.
“The Newark Planning Commission has substantive concerns about the SMW (Seneca Mountain Wind) proposal and its impacts to Newark residents, the local economy, natural resources, wildlife, scenic areas, and nearby conservation lands,” begins the response.
It goes on, “Newark is a small town with a resident adult population of 492. The Planning Commission is submitting this letter on behalf of the people of Newark who have asked us to investigate the SMW project and to protect the interests of the town. A substantial portion of the residents and property owners of Newark oppose the SMW project.”
“Newark Neighbors United (NNU), a citizen organization, has collected over 300 signatures on a petition indicating opposition to this project,” the commission states. More than half the town’s registered voters have signed the petition, which the group plans to turn over to the Public Service Board.
The tower proposed in Newark is proposed for Hawk Rock, a prominent feature in the community, the commission notes. “Hawk Rock and its neighboring peaks, Walker Mountain and Packer Mountain, form a large block of contiguous, undeveloped, high-elevation land that is visible from many parts of the town, including many homes, public roads and a large stretch of Vermont Route 114, the main road between East Burke and Island Pond.”
The Newark Planning Commission wants to be granted intervenor status in the application and that the PSB hold a public hearing on the necessity of a MET tower for the possible project in Newark. The commission also wants a site visit be conducted so the PSB, Planning Commission and residents of Newark will be able to “bear witness to the impact that the SMW project will have on a fragile, rare, and irreplaceable area.”
The commission notes that they believe the “mere presence of a MET tower will deter owners in the area from making investments and improvements in property and will deter potential buyers from buying property in the area.” The letter cites the Town Plan, stating the wind project is not in harmony with the plan and will harm aesthetics, wildlife habitats and more.
Seneca Mountain Wind is planning an open house Wednesday at the Newark Street School from 6 to 8:30 p.m, to discuss the plans. Jack Kenworthy, chief executive officer of Eolian Renewable Energy, could not be reached Monday for comment on the open house plans in Newark. According to the webpage for Seneca Mountain Wind, a similar event is planned on May 24 in Brighton. The event is to be an “informal, one-on-one setting,” where people can find out more about the plans, the website says, including the tax revenue and community benefits.
Protesters are gearing up to turn out in force at the event, sending around emails this week urging people to wear green to protest. The protest was planned at the Friday night meeting of the citizen group Newark Neighbors United. The protest will begin at 5:30 p.m., the emails circulated on Monday stated.