IRASBURG – The select board here, in a joint motion with the Department of Public Service (DPS) and the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), is asking the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) to quash wind developer David Blittersdorf’s requests to depose town officials and representatives of the DPS and ANR.
The parties also want the PSB to limit the developer’s requests for a voluminous number of documents, arguing that some are privileged attorney work product and others can be obtained through less burdensome means. The information sought is irrelevant to the limited subject matter and is not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, the motion states.
“Given the limited scope of the issues present in the proceeding at this time, the depositions would serve only to harass and unduly burden the Non-respondents,” the motion states.
ANR, DPS and the town asked the PSB to grant a protective order, limiting Blittersdorf’s requests to information that is relevant to the narrow question at hand – whether Blittersdorf violated the law when he erected a meteorological evaluation tower (MET) without first obtaining a certificate of public good.
The MET is located on Blittersdorf’s property on Kidder Hill in Irasburg, where the developer has erected two small-scale wind towers and hopes to build two industrial-size towers.
Blittersdorf has responded to discovery requests and interrogatories from the other parties, and now he wants his stab at getting information.
In their motion, the DPS, ANR and town indicate that hearing officer George Young indicated to Blittersdorf at a June 15 hearing that prematurely executed discovery requests would be “pretty much useless” at this stage of the proceeding.
But Blittersdorf’s attorney Leslie Cadwell, in a letter opposing DPS’s proposed litigation schedule, said a ruling on the DPS’s motion for summary judgment, prior to the completion of discovery, would violate her client’s rights.
“Setting a date for motion practice without any opportunity for Respondent to exercise his right to discovery under the Board’s rules is fundamentally unjust,” Cadwell wrote.
On June 29, Cadwell sent notices of depositions, some of which are requests for document discovery, for each of the parties. In the case of the town, Cadwell seeks to depose Dr. Ron Holland, the town moderator who has been representing the town pro se in this dispute, and the selectman who is most knowledgeable about several topics related to the dispute.
Specifically, Blittersdorf wants to know more about the $34,000 increase in valuation of his property due to the MET’s installation and wants to see all emails, text messages and other communication between any selectmen and listers regarding the issue.
He also wants to see all communications between any member of the select board and any member of the Irasburg Ridgeline Alliance (IRA), a group established to fight the construction of two nearly 500-foot-tall wind towers on Kidder Hill.
Blittersdorf seeks all minutes and “content” of meetings between the selectmen and IRA and select board meetings in which the MET or Docket No. 8585 were discussed. He’s seeking minutes of select board meetings spanning four and a half years in which these topics were discussed.
He also wants to know more about the scope of authority granted to Holland by the select board and seeks any documents laying the groundwork for that authority.
Blittersdorf wants all written and electronic communications from or to Holland about Docket No. 8585, about the impact to the town and its residents from the MET, and about Blittersdorf’s compliance with rules, regulations, or orders of the PSB, ANR, DPS, the Vermont Natural Resources Board, any Vermont municipal zoning authority, and any Act 250 District Commission.
The DPS filed its motion for summary judgment July 1, asking state utility regulators to find Blittersdorf in violation with the potential for penalties.
Blittersdorf’s position is that, based on information gleaned from both the PSB and DPS, he was under the impression that he did not need a certificate of public good in order to erect a MET for the purpose of small-scale wind towers for personal use, which he erected in 2010.
The town’s position is that it was deprived of advance notice of Blittersdorf’s plans to build industrial-scale wind towers due to the developer’s failure to apply for a certificate of public good for the MET.
But Blittersdorf said he didn’t initially plan to build the larger towers when he erected the MET, and that the data from the MET would have been insufficient to determine whether the site was worthwhile for large-scale wind towers.
In a non-binding vote, the townspeople overwhelmingly opposed ridgeline development for wind energy.
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