NEWARK – A Newark resident has filed a complaint with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources over a concern that site work may have already been done to prepare for a proposed test tower for future wind turbines.
Vincent Jacob, who lives near Center Pond in Newark, filed the complaint alleging work beyond the scope of logging in the area of Hawk Road and Quarry Road has been performed, citing the name of a local company out of East Haven in the complaint, stating in the complaint that its name appears on the posted signs attached to the locked gates at the site in question.
What some residents suspect is that site work is being done by or on behalf of wind developer Eolian Renewable Energy of Portsmouth, N.H., and its request for meteorological towers in the area, allegations that the wind developer denies.
Kirsten Sultan, district coordinator for Act 250 District #7 Commission in St. Johnsbury, confirmed the complaint was filed and that her office also took a complaint from the Jacob family on the telephone. She said the complaint has been forwarded to ANR Permit Compliance Officer John Wakefield in Montpelier, where an investigation has been started.
Wakefield could not discuss the open investigation on Wednesday, but provided a copy of the complaint, a public document, late in the day. Under ‘Description of Violation,’ the complaint states: “Development of roads that are more substantial than typical logging roads. These roads are well graveled with culverts and some use of stay mat. Basically, these roads are of better construction than the class 3 roads in the town. Residents adjacent to these roads have witnessed this development while being told they are logging roads but have seen no signs of marketable logs leaving the site. These roads appear to be of a larger scale than for logging purposes. Do they have an Act 250 permit for these roads?”
The complaint was filed as a new violation complaint online on April 16, the 4-page document shows. The reported violation is stated as occurring at Hawk Rock, where the wind farm wants to site one of the meteorological towers associated with its hoped-for wind project, and the violation also is stated to have allegedly taken place at Quarry Road off Route 114 in Newark.
Efforts to reach Jacob on Wednesday were not successful.
Sultan said her office also has received a number of aerial photographs from Newark resident Tim King, as well as a CD containing many more photographs, all of which have been sent to the Montpelier office as part of the investigation.
King, active in the new group Newark Neighbors United, which meets every Friday night at the Newark Street School, said he took a recent plane ride with Newark camp and landowner Vincent Matteis, and took the aerial photos which he believes show sites where recent clearing may have been done.
“The biggest thing I can say is that numerous people in the community have been concerned,” said King. “We passed them [photos] onto the people responsible for dealing with these situations. … We’ve passed on the information to the right people that we in Vermont entrust to take care of us.”
“In some of the photos you can see turned soil,” continued King. “I’m not an expert in this area, but if you look at the pictures from the ground and above, there’s a nice network of roads and clearing in spots, it doesn’t look like a logging operation to a regular person, and of course, this does create a concern.”
Eolian Renewable Energy, a partner with Nordex, a turbine manufacturer, in the entity called Seneca Mountain Wind, is now before the Vermont Public Service Board seeking a Certificate of Public Good to put in four meteorological or MET towers, a precursor to a possible wind farm which could see up to 35 wind turbines installed in Brighton, Ferdinand and Newark, Jack Kenworthy, the CEO of Eolian, said last week at an open house held in Newark.
One MET tower is sought in Newark, and last week, Kenworthy told a Newark property owner that according to plans at present, 10 wind turbines are hoped for in Newark, and 25 in Brighton and Ferdinand.
On Wednesday, asked about the alleged disturbance in Newark, Kenworthy responded by saying, “I am not aware of a specific complaint by Vince Jacobs, but we have heard about false rumors being spread that work is being conducted on the site in association with our project.”
Kenworthy continued, stating in an email sent Wednesday, “Here is our basic statement in reply,” offered Kenworthy: “Absolutely no clearing, road building, or other construction work whatsoever has been conducted on Seneca Mountain Wind’s behalf or in association with our potential project. Our activities on site have been limited to scientific investigations of natural resources by consultants; SMW will not commence any construction activities related to the project unless and until all required permit approvals are received; (and) all properties that are under lease agreement with Seneca Mountain Wind are actively managed for timber and other resources and have had road building activities ongoing for many decades prior to any involvement by SMW. These activities are unrelated to any SMW project and questions on those prior activities should be directed to the relevant landowners who can provide the detailed history to clear up any misinformation.”
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