IRASBURG – Two employees of developer David Blittersdorf’s Kidder Hill Community Wind project offered the promise of tax payments, net-metered local power, and community input during Monday’s select board meeting.
Martha Staskus, project representative for VERA Renewables, and Alison Milbury Stone, attorney on the project team, gave an overview of the project, which would include two nearly 500-foot-tall wind towers, as well as the process by which tax payments are formalized and the permitting process.
At an estimated $40,000 a year, Milbury Stone said Kidder Hill would be one of the largest contributors in the tax base in Irasburg.
Staskus said part of the process would be looking into how the Green Mountain Power and Velco lines are taxed, as well as a pipeline.
Blittersdorf is talking with Vermont Electric Cooperative about accepting the power produced there, which would be fed through a three-phase line off Routes 14 and then 58.
Town buildings and neighbors of the projects could benefit from net-metered power, Staskus said.
They said they’d like to know more about what the townspeople want.
The town overwhelmingly voted in opposition of the project, said Selectman Brian Sanville, saying that he’d prefer for this conversation to take place after being properly warned on the agenda.
“What do you think the town wants?” Sanville asked.
Milbury Stone indicated that misinformation had been spread and that a new conversation could begin that was based in facts, “separating a little bit of the myth from reality.”
Sanville said he was inclined to stop the meeting. “It should have been warned.”
It’s okay to hear an update about the project, said Selectman Dave Warner.
The representatives said they wanted to hold a public forum in which they could present a complete package – with all research done and all questions answered – replete with maps, visual simulations, and experts in various fields.
There might be people who want to hear what Blittersdorf and his employees have to say, said Assistant Town Clerk Priscilla Stebenne.
Sanville, Warner, and Stebenne provided the women with a quick overview of the town’s issues with the project.
They included proximity to houses, concerns about health issues, aesthetics, and property value decline. “Nobody’s going to want to buy it after that,” Stebenne said.
$40,000 a year won’t make much of a dent in people’s tax bills, Stebenne said, and it’s not enough to make most people want to see those towers every day.
“It would really be nice, you know, if the town has a say, and if we get pushed around by Mr. Blittersdorf … he comes in and starts shoving this stuff in our face and you get a unanimous vote, at that point in time, okay, that’s kind of being bullied,” Sanville said.
As for the windmills, “Do they bother me? No, they don’t bother me,” Sanville said. He’s on Lowell Mountain and within less than a mile as the crow flies from the site, but Sanville said a little noise won’t bother him, joking that if one likes the towers, he’ll claim not to hear them anyway.
“If there was one ounce of health issue – my grandson lives just down the road – if I knew that there was 1 percent, you’re going to have a hell of a fight on your hands,” Sanville said. “That’s my life and a lot of people’s lives.”
Staskus said after Irasburg and the surrounding towns are given formal notice of the project, they’ll speak with town officials about setting up a special meeting in the town hall.
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