Vermont Public Service Board hearing officer George Young has adopted a schedule for the PSB’s investigation into developer David Blittersdorf’s unpermitted wind speed testing tower on Kidder Hill in Irasburg.
Blittersdorf’s prefiled testimony is due this Friday, followed by two rounds of discovery requests and Blittersdorf’s responses throughout the winter and spring.
On April 6, the parties – the town of Irasburg, the Department of Public Service, the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), and the developer – must either stipulate to a schedule for the remainder of the process or file their own preferences for a schedule.
Young wrote that he may have to hold a status conference after the April 6 deadline.
The schedule adopted is preferable to Dr. Ron Holland, who is representing the town’s select board pro se in PSB proceedings.
The town, ANR, and the Department of Public Service all agreed on a schedule – very similar to the one adopted by Young – but Blittersdorf’s newest attorney of record, Alison Milbury Stone of Legal Counselors & Advocates, suggested a different schedule.
The Department of Public Service representatives – special counsel Aaron Kisicki and director of public advocacy Geoff Commons – wrote that they feel a stipulation among the parties as to fact is very possible and that once those factual issues to be litigated are clearer to the parties, they would be in a better position to craft a litigation schedule.
But Blittersdorf’s schedule proposed that prefiled testimony from the Department of Public Service, the town, and ANR be filed by April 6, followed by deadlines for pre-hearing motions, settlement agreements, and evidentiary hearing over one to two days, proposed findings and briefs, and reply briefs, extending the schedule to Sept. 9, 2016.
Blittersdorf’s attorneys want to extend this process to nine months or more, Holland said, when four months would allow for a comprehensive investigation.
“He wants to know what we know from day one,” Holland said of Blittersdorf’s proposed schedule.
Holland views the process as one in which little testimony is needed, considering that the statute governing wind test towers is clear – before you build one, you need a certificate of public good (CPG). He believes that a violation has occurred and would like to move to the penalty stage.
The town was disadvantaged by Blittersdorf’s lack of a CPG because it was unaware of Blittersdorf’s plan to eventually erect two industrial-size wind towers.
From Blittersdorf’s perspective, when he built the wind speed testing tower in 2010, he was prevented by a non-compete agreement from building industrial size towers. He said the data is insufficient to determine whether industrial wind was appropriate and used the data only to support his two smaller, residential wind towers.
As such, he did not believe that he needed a CPG.
PSB hearing officer George Young is charged with examining “the facts surrounding the construction of the meteorological tower and whether the tower was lawfully constructed, with particular attention to whether the construction of the tower complied with the applicable requirements, if any, of Section 246 of Title 30.”
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