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Grafton Non Residents want voices heard: Wind Power Project  

Credit:  BY DONNA ALLEN | The Shopper | 01/28/2016 | www.vermontjournal.com ~~

GRAFTON, Vt.– The non-resident homeowners of Grafton want their voices heard in the Proposed industrial wind project by Iberdrola. The decision of whether to let this project into town is legally decided by the resident homeowners; however, many non-resident homeowners have in the past been residents for many years and would like to be heard. Some of these homeowners wrote a letter to the Selectboard, which reads:

Dear Members of the Grafton Selectboard,

Iberdrola, an international power company based in Spain, is proposing to place 28 industrial wind turbines on the highest ridges between the towns of Grafton and Windham. With its planned 90 megawatts of capacity, the project wiould be the largest in Vermont. The project would have an enormous impact on nature, the local economy and the character of the town.

Iberdrola has stated in its letter of November 25, 2105 to Grafton residents that it will not pursue the project if the town of Grafton is against it. Iberdrola proposes that the town hold a vote of registered voters after Iberdrola has presented detailed proposal, which it has announced it will do “in the fall of 2016.”

It should be noted that the siting of a wind energy project is not a matter about which a vote is legally required. Nevertheless, we agree that it is imperative that the members of the Grafton community are given the opportunity to express their opinion on this project.

Given the extraordinary impact of the project on Grafton, and these exceptional circumstances, we believe that all members of the Grafton community should be polled to determine the town’s position.

Non-resident property owners are definitely members of the Grafton community, as they, like residents, contribute to the local economy, take part in Grafton’s social life, actively and financially contribute to Grafton’s and Windham county’s institutions (fire Department and Rescue Squad, Library, Grafton Cares, Elementary School, Historical Society, Grace Cottage Hospital), and pay approx. 60% of Grafton’s taxes.

Therefore, we propose that, when a vote is deemed appropriate for a decision on the wind project, the Selectboard organize a referendum of all members of the Grafton community, i.e.:

– All registered voters;

– All taxpayers, resident or non-resident (who are not registered voters);

– In doing so, there should be maximally one vote per person; if properties are jointly held, all property holders would be entitled to vote.

Fifty-nine non-resident homeowners electronically signed this letter.

State law prohibits non-residents from voting on the project as they do not live in town and are not registered voters. Many people are in favor of granting the non-residents “something,” but what has not been determined yet.

After speaking with Town Administrator Rachel Williams on Monday: the town is continuing to look at options, but has found none as of yet. At last year’s town meeting the voters voted an article that specifically states the Iberdrola decision would be made by Australian ballot. The state defines that Australian ballot be voted on by registered voters. After talking with many town’s attorneys, Williams said, “We have tried to find a way {that non registered voters can vote}, but have not been able to do it.

Someone could take out a petition to repeal the article voted on last year, but it is too late to vote at Town meeting this year and would cost the town between $2,000 and $3,000 to hold another vote. The town is trying to hold the registered voters vote on the same day as the Presidential primary elections to save money.

The next Selectboard meeting is Monday, Feb. 1, 2016 at 6 p.m. at the Grafton Elementary School

Source:  BY DONNA ALLEN | The Shopper | 01/28/2016 | www.vermontjournal.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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