ANTRIM – Six citizens say the town and Antrim Wind Energy LLC held illegal meetings and that selectmen should not make a decision Wednesday night on a payment in lieu of taxes – known as a PILOT.
Eolian Renewable Energy, as Antrim Wind Energy, is seeking state approval to build a 30-megawatt production capacity facility with 10 wind turbines in the rural conservation district along the Tuttle and Willard mountain ridge lines.
The state Site Evaluation Committee took jurisdiction of the project a year ago because of its size, but the Board of Selectmen continued to meet with Antrim Wind Energy to discuss the PILOT agreement.
The town has the right under state law to negotiate a PILOT with utility companies instead of charging a property tax based on the assessment of the facility.
“The selectmen have been having illegal meetings with them for several years and we decided to call them out on it,” resident Charles Levesque said Friday. “They are leaning toward signing this thing and it’s based on illegal meetings, behind closed doors.”
A letter was sent to the Select Board by attorney John Ratigan, who is representing Levesque, Mary and Gordon Allen, Sarah VanderWende, Martha Pinello, Janice Longgood and Peter Moore.
The residents are requesting dates and minutes of all meetings involving a quorum of the Select Board and any Antrim Wind representatives, as well as email communications, Ratigan said.
He continued: “The first question that should be asked is whether a PILOT agreement is in the best interest of the town of Antrim and its taxpayers.
As has been the case in other communities across New England that are near these facilities, there will be people whose property will be diminished in value because of the proximity of these towers.
“Others may hear the tower blades spin, experience the wind turbine shadow effect, or simply have to live with a disrupted view of the ridge line. While we understand that you do not have jurisdiction over these issues, the selectmen do have jurisdiction over matters of tax assessment,” Ratigan wrote.
The Select Board should hold off on making a decision Wednesday night, Levesque said.
The board is planning a public hearing Wednesday at town hall at 7 p.m. to discuss the proposed PILOT agreement, as well as alternative PILOT agreements.
On Saturday, Selectman Michael Genest confirmed the town has received the letter. Because the board had not discussed the matter with town counsel yet, he refused to comment.
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