September 25, 2012

Lawsuit demands Lowell revote on non-binding article

Reposted from Caledonian Record via Energize Vermont 25 September 2012

NEWPORT CITY – A Lowell resident wants a judge to force the Lowell Select Board to call a special town meeting to reconsider an article opposing the Lowell wind project.

The non-binding article, which begins “Shall the voters of of the Town of Lowell express their opposition to the GMP and VELCO wind project …,” was passed over by voice vote at the Lowell town meeting in March.

The select board in April, when presented with a petition to put the article back before voters at a special meeting, refused to do so. They said, according to the minutes, that they didn’t have to hold a special meeting because both the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and the secretary of state said that the article had not been voted on and no action had been taken so a special meeting wasn’t required.

An attorney for Edward Weselow, one of the proponents of the article, filed a complaint in Orleans Superior Court – Civil Division saying Weselow wants the superior court judge to order the select board to warn a special meeting on the article.

Weselow is also asking for any other relief that the court deems proper.

The select board, through the board’s attorney, responded in August that the article was not voted on but was passed over by voters. That means, attorney Richard Saudek said, that the board does not have to put it back on a special meeting ballot to have voters reconsider it.

The board wants the lawsuit dismissed and the town compensated for the cost of defending against the lawsuit.

The article was one of several non-binding referendums before Lowell voters at town meeting about the Lowell wind project and renewable energy.

Selectmen said later that they found out after they put the articles on the ballot that they did not have to put such petitioned but non-binding articles before the voters.

The anti-wind article from Weselow and other wind opponents states, in part, that:

“Shall the voters of the Town of Lowell express their opposition to the GMP and VELCO wind project, given that these companies have violated the rights of private property owners, destroyed federally protected stream headwaters, destroyed the ridgeline, will cause clinical depression and/or stress for many of those that live around it …”

The article was one of three different non-binding articles about the wind project and renewable energy on the Lowell town meeting ballot, which were considered on the floor last March.

An article supporting the contract that Lowell has with GMP over taxes for the wind project and telling opponents that they were causing delays in the project also was considered. An effort to pass over that failed. It was approved by a vote of 64 to 55.

Also on the town meeting ballot, Weselow asked voters to create a non-profit company called Vermont Free Power to help Vermonters buy green renewable resource solar panels and micro wind mills.

Voters passed over that article as well.

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