Standing room only doesn’t do the crowd in a packed Swanton meeting room justice.
“We would like to see our electric bills go down, but it’s where they’re putting them it, they’re putting these right near residential areas,” said one concerned citizen.
She spoke from behind the entrancem as select boards from Swanton, Saint Albans Town and Fairfield discussed a wind turbine project.
Swanton Wind LLC wants to put up seven wind turbines on an area known as the Swanton Ridge. The developer, Travis Belisle owns the land.
While Green Energy is a growing industry in Vermont, as Governor Shumlin set a high bar of reaching 90-percent renewables by the year 2050, the project was met with fierce opposition.
“499 foot towers are visual pollution,” said Swanton Selectboardman Joel Clark.
“If it’s going to affect the quality of my life, where I live now, then I have a problem with it,” said Fairfield Selectboardman Greg Christie.
“The fact that this may have some water quality issues, after all the work we did, after all the pain we put our farmers through when we did it because they want to protect the water, and this is going to have a problem with our water, we need to change the process,” said State Senator Dustin Degree, representing Franklin County.
Martha Staskus is with Vermont Environmental Research Associates. She’s working with the developers but says the plans aren’t entirely set in stone. The project has yet to be presented to the Public Service Board.
“Those environmental criteria and the questions that have been raised this evening will have to be much more thoroughly addressed,” Staskus said.
She went on to acknowledge her appreciation of the three boards meeting, and was taking notes on people’s concerns.
The Public Service Board will review the proposal, but some members believe its sole authority to approve such a project leaves the public out of the loop and process.
“The fact that all of you have no say in the process, that the towns are held completely out of the process, is just not the state that I grew up in,” Senator Degree said.
The crowd requested that the Agency of Natural Resources look into the proposed project.
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