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Hearing set for Antrim Wind offer

ANTRIM – Town officials will hold a public hearing on Monday to decide whether or not to accept a one-time payment of $40,000 from Antrim Wind Energy for “acceptable compensation” for negative visual impacts a wind farm would have had on the town.

In February, the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee voted down a proposed 10-turbine wind farm that would have been placed on the ridge line of Tuttle Hill and Willard Mountain due to negative visual impacts the turbines would have had on the area and the town.

Whether or not Antrim will see the $40,000 hinges on whether the SEC ruling is reversed on appeal. Select Board Chair Gordon Webber said recently that he expects Antrim Wind Energy, a subsidiary of Eolian Renewable Energy based in Portsmouth, to file for an appeal. That option to appeal would be available once the final written order from the decision is made public.

In March, Antrim Wind Energy sent a letter to Antrim town officials, offering a one-time payment of $40,000 to the town as “mitigation” for negative visual impacts that could be used to aesthetically enhance the Gregg Lake area. Antrim town officials drafted a letter back to Antrim Wind, asking to change “mitigation” to “acceptable compensation” for negative visual impacts the turbines would have had. The letter was reviewed by the town’s attorney, Barton Mayer.

The hearing, Town Administrator Galen Stearns said in a phone interview Monday, will be to get opinions from residents as to why or why not the town should accept the payment.

“After we take public input, we will vote to either accept [the payment] or reject it,” Stearns said.

Stearns said that at this point, the hearing on Monday is not to determine the use for the $40,000, but merely whether or not the Select Board would agree to accept it. The letter drafted by the town intended to be sent to the SEC stated that the money would likely be used to enhance recreational facilities at Gregg Lake.