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Neighbors protest proposed wind turbine; Seven turbines could be built along a Swanton ridge line

In June, the developers of a proposed wind power project in Swanton gave formal notification of their plan to construct up to seven wind turbines.

That plan has sparked protest by those opposed to the development.

“It’s irresponsible for me not to do something like this,” said Travis Belisle, the developer who says he’s trying to cut down on fossil fuel dependence with his Swanton Wind project.

The plan is to build seven wind turbines, up to 499 feet tall along a ridge line not far from Vermont Route 105.

It’s also not far from a number of homes.

“It’s our communities. All the villages in Vermont need to be on the same page, and I don’t think everybody’s getting that opportunity,” said Paula Pearsall who lives nearby.

Protesters rallied outside Thursday night’s informational meeting, where the community got to speak with environmental, real estate, and sound experts commissioned by Swanton Wind LLC.

It was a chance to learn more about the project that could start construction as soon as 2016.

A frequent worry heard from residents is the impact construction will have on the water and wildlife.

”We live right on Fairfield Pond. How can this be good if it’s going to come downhill to the lake?” said Pearsall.

“We will be meeting all the state regulations that are related to water quality for projects of this type and any type,” said Scott Homsted, a civil engineer working with the project.

Along with water quality and land preservation, noise pollution is another concern for people living near the proposed wind farm.

“This project proposes to put seven 500-foot towers 1,800 or 2,000 feet from Vermont families. I don’t support that,” said former Vermont Lt. Governor Brian Dubie, who lives near the project.

This wouldn’t be the first wind turbine project in Vermont. One not too far away started running in Georgia in 2012.

The Swanton turbines could not only be potentially 70 feet taller than those in Georgia, but also closer to homes.

Danielle Garrant says she and her kids live less than half a mile away. So does Belisle.

“It’s very scary to think of the possible impact that this is going to have on them,” said Garrant speaking of her young children.

Belisle says when it comes to some of the concern people have expressed about the turbines, he gets it.

”As far as visual impacts, you know, they are what they are. That is the current technology we have to work with today we can’t get to the next level of technology without investing in what’s current,” said Belisle.

Some residents think more time needs to be spent weighing the pros and cons.

“Why don’t we take a step back and find out for sure. I’ll be open to that,” said Pearsall.

The earliest the Belisle could submit an application for the project is Oct. 8.

The plans are subject to review by Vermont’s Public Service Board.

Correction: a previous edit said the Swanton turbines could be twice as tall as the Georgia turbines. They could be 70 feet taller.