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Blittersdorf questions Irasburg Selectmen appointing moderator as representative

The Irasburg select board did not file a motion to intervene in the Public Service Board’s investigation into developer David Blittersdorf’s unpermitted wind test tower.

That will not stop the town from being considered a party to the process. Leslie Cadwell, Blittersdorf’s attorney, said the CEO of AllEarth Renewables does not plan to object to the town being considered a party, despite the board’s failure to file its motion by the deadline, Oct. 20.

“Technically, yes, the town was supposed to file a motion to intervene,” Cadwell said. Cadwell had filed a letter prior to the deadline indicating that Blittersdorf did not intend to object to the town or the Agency of Natural Resources being allowed to intervene.

At last week’s select board meeting, former chairman Robin Kay said that consultant Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, told her Cadwell’s letter meant that the town didn’t have to file a motion to intervene.

However, Blittersdorf will raise questions regarding the legality of the select board appointing someone who is not a selectman to act as its representative in the proceedings, Cadwell said.

The select board recently appointed Dr. Ron Holland, the town moderator and a member of anti-wind group Irasburg Ridgeline Alliance (IRA), to serve as its pro se representative.

Cadwell said she’s not sure the select board has the authority to appoint a non-selectman as its representative, unless the representative is an attorney.

The board could cure this problem by appointing Holland to serve as a selectman, Cadwell said.

And a position is open, after the resignation of chair Robin Kay at last week’s meeting.

Blittersdorf plans to build two nearly 500-foot-tall wind towers on his land on Kidder Hill in Irasburg, although he has not yet filed notice with the town or an application with the Public Service Board (PSB).

Townspeople have come out in opposition to the project. A petition signed by 421 of the town’s 665 voters asks the selectmen to protect the town’s ridgelines from wind development, while a nonbinding vote on the project came out with 274 against and 9 in favor.

The PSB is investigating a meteorological test tower on Kidder Hill, for which Blittersdorf never obtained a certificate of public good.

The Irasburg select board and the Department of Public Service asked the PSB to investigate whether Blittersdorf needed a permit. The select board believes that Blittersdorf used the tower to collect data in determining whether or not to build the two industrial size towers.

But Blittersdorf, through Cadwell, wrote that he was prevented from building industrial size towers through a non-compete agreement when he raised the test tower, that he’s only used the data to determine whether to build the two smaller wind towers on his property, and that the data from the small test tower would be insufficient to make a determination as to whether Kidder Hill was a good site for industrial scale wind.

At a pre-hearing conference in early October, the hearing officer set a deadline of Oct. 30 for responses to motions to intervene and a tentative phone conference for Nov. 12.

Irasburg Selectman Brian Sanville said his focus is on the roads, and that he was not prepared to answer questions about this issue Wednesday. Selectman Brian Fecher said this was news to him and that he thought the town had followed the proper procedures. He said he would need more information before responding.