In December, taxpayers in the towns of Windham and Grafton received a letter from Meadowsend Timberlands, which owns a chunk of land with borders in both towns. The letter introduces, in minute detail, their new public-relations manager. It is meant to put us taxpayers in a good mood about Meadowsend’s efforts to put wind turbines on their land, by touting the tax benefits that have accrued to other Vermont towns with turbines.
Most of us in the Windham community tend to be fairly taciturn, so it’s not clear what the effect of the letter has been. What is clear is that it represents a baffling turnaround by the good folks of Meadowsend. Until now, they have categorically refused to discuss their plans for a wind installation in the heart of our town, claiming that they have no plans because they’re waiting for data from the measuring towers that were installed here earlier this year. Now, these same folks present us with data on tax benefits we can anticipate. But hold on: their computations only make sense if they are planning roughly the same number of turbines, with the same output, as that found in the communities they tout, where (we can but surmise) rosy-cheeked residents dance upon gold-paved streets.
We’re taciturn, but we ain’t stupid. We’ve used Geographic Information Systems software and wind data from the Vermont Center for Geographic Information to make some powerful predictions about likely siting of towers in our communities, and we’re pretty clear about what the impacts might be, based on the experience of other towns that lie in the shadow of wind turbines. Our findings suggest that it will take a lot more than the ministrations of a public-relations manager to smooth the path that lies ahead for Meadowsend and the people of Windham and Grafton.
For now, we have urgent questions for the folks at Meadowsend: If they’ve got a plan for their wind installation, why not talk to us about it? Why stonewall our questions about number and siting of towers, about probable effects, about exclusion zones? Do they or don’t they have a picture of a future wind installation in our towns? If the answer if yes, why not share it with us? If the answer if no, what’s the basis of their tax revenue projections for our towns?
As for public relations, we’d like answers, not windy promises.
Windham, Dec. 30
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