ANTRIM – Following Antrim Wind Energy’s purchase of a roughly 100-acre conservation easement from Charles Bean III and his family, the wind developer has asked the town to manage the property that could potentially house four wind turbines.
The Select Board will hold two public hearings, one on June 10 and the other on June 24, to hear public input on why the town should or should not manage the easement.
Parts of the 900-acre Bean conservation easement stretch over parts of Tuttle Hill, where a 10-turbine wind farm is proposed for construction. The state’s Site Evaluation Committee denied Antrim Wind’s application in February, citing negative visual impacts the wind farm would have on the aesthetics of the town.
There have since been two appeals to the ruling, one submitted by the town of Antrim and the other by Antrim Wind, in an attempt to overturn the SEC’s ruling.
Negotiations between Antrim Wind Energy and the Bean family of Massachusetts, which has owned the conservation easement and the land for generations, regarding the purchase of the easement were private, according to Select Board Chair Gordon Webber. Antrim Wind has asked the town to hold the easement as a nonprofit entity.
Webber said in an interview Monday at the Town Hall that after the public hearings have concluded, the Select Board will decide whether or not to sign the letter of intent to hold the easement for Antrim Wind. In holding and managing the easement, the town would guarantee that once the wind towers came down 50 years from construction, there would be no further development of the land, Town Administrator Galen Stearns said in a phone interview Monday.
“Someone has to hold the easement after it’s purchased,” Webber said. “Many towns throughout the state hold them, and Antrim would hold this one.”
Webber said that if the SEC does not reverse its decision to build the turbines, the easements become moot to Antrim Wind, and will be turned back over to the landowners.
Antrim Wind has now purchased conservation easements from three different parties who own property along the Tuttle Hill and Willard Mountain ridgelines.
Jack Kenworthy, CEO of Eolian Renewable Energy (the parent company of Antrim Wind), said the purchase of the easement guarantees that the proposed 10 turbines, each 496-feet tall, would be on completely conserved land.
“This is an element to add additional mitigation to the project,” Kenworthy said.
Webber said the purchase of the easement may mean Antrim Wind is trying to shift the SEC’s decision. “I’m not speaking for Antrim Wind, but that’s the conclusion I draw. They have to bring something new to the table.”
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