BURLINGTON, Vt. – A new twist on two fronts in the legal dispute surrounding the wind project now under construction on top of Georgia Mountain, and it involves, of all things, Bennington Battle Day.
Project developers are pushing to complete installation of four industrial turbines at the summit of the 1,250 foot ridgeline – 14 miles north of Burlington – by the end of the year.
Last week, lawyers for Georgia Mountain Community Wind went to court, suing neighboring landowners Jane and Dan FitzGerald of Milton. They argued the FitzGeralds – who oppose the turbines – had interfered with blasting activities on top of the mountain by being inside the thousand foot safety zone.
The infraction took place August 16, never mind the fact the FitzGeralds were standing on their own land. Georgia Mountain partners persuaded Judge Geoffrey Crawford to issue a restraining order the following day, however, barring them from the last one thousand feet of their land nearest the construction site.
But this week the FitzGeralds made a discovery and filed new legal papers Thursday afternoon in Superior Court in Burlington.
“Basically we’re looking to have this case dismissed,” Dan FitzGerald said on the coruthouse steps. “The date they claim damages were done to them was actually a state holiday.”
Bennington Battle Day.
The family’s lawyer noted that state permits issued to GMCW forbid blasting on any state or federal holiday.
“They were in violation and they had no grounds for any of the complaint,” FitzGerald said.
Now the shoe is on the other foot – the FitzGeralds are seeking damages – and legal fees – from developers. A hearing is set for August 30.
Also Thursday, the Department of Public Service filed documents before the state Public Service Board seeking relief on a series of permit violations inspectors found in a site visit to Georgia Mountain.
DPS said rock debris from the blasting was found several hundred feet onto the FitzGerald’s property, for example.
Developers are worried that new delays might threaten their construction timeline – they’ll lose $8 million in federal grants if the turbines are not spinning by Dec. 31.