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Irasburg: PSB investigating allegation Blittersdorf lied on CPG

IRASBURG – An abutter of David Blittersdorf has filed a complaint with the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) alleging that Blittersdorf misrepresented how far the nearest dwelling was when he installed a wind turbine on his Kidder Hill land.

A pre-hearing conference has been set in the case for July 29 in Montpelier.

An investigation into the complaint of neighboring property owner Robert Garthwaite was opened by the PSB on Friday, according to the docket in the case.

The complaint brought by Garthwaite’s attorney on his behalf concerns a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) Blittersdorf received from the PSB on Jan. 5, 2012.

The CPG was issued to allow Blittersdorf to construct and operate “a group net-metered wind electric generation facility consisting of two wind turbines,” on his Irasburg property.

Garthwaite, in a telephone interview on Tuesday from his home in Windsor, Connecticut, said his late father-in-law resided at the property. His family has enjoyed coming to their home in Irasburg, which is off the grid, especially for winter vacations. But since one of the wind turbines was put in so close to their property, it has made enjoying their home difficult.

Garthwaite said he has tried multiple times to resolve the concern with Blittersdorf, who has promised to remedy the situation, but nothing has been done.

Garthwaite said he had hoped to avoid litigation, but it became evident after several years that Blittersdorf was not going to address his concerns.

“We would go up on weekends in the winter, and we used to go up a lot more in the summertime, but the problem is that with that windmill, you can’t sleep at night,” said Garthwaite. He said since his family’s home in Irasburg is off the grid, “You can’t turn on an air conditioner or fan, and the noise is all night long (from the windmill). It’s just really gotten to the point where we can’t even go there anymore.”

Garthwaite said, “We’ve had the property for a long time. It’s gotten to be a really serious annoyance.”

What Garthwaite is claiming in his complaint to the PSB is that “(Blittsersdorf) falsified everything on his permit. It’s clear that he didn’t do what the permit said.”

“I’ve tried to work with him,” said Garthwaite. “It just fell on deaf ears. What am I supposed to do?”

Of the complaint being brought to the PSB now, and the investigation being opened into Garthwaite’s allegations, he said, “It’s sort of just a last-ditch effort to try and get some peace and quiet up there.”

Garthwaite said his hope is that Blittersdorf has to end up moving the windmill.

“I wish at least he would put it where he said he was going to put it,” Garthwaite said. “It’s not like he doesn’t have enough property to do that.”

Garthwaite said of his allegation against Blittersdorf, “Basically, he falsified a permit to get a windmill installed. They put it right on top of my house. They said the nearest house was a mile away. This has been going on for awhile, and he said he would take care of it, and he never took care of it. It just got to be too much.”

Garthwaite’s attorney, L. Brooke Dingledine of Barre, could not be reached on Tuesday for comment by press time.

Andrew Savage of All Earth Renewables, speaking for Blittersdorf, said, “We wanted to provide some context that Mr. Garthwaite wanted to sell his property to David, but when he didn’t get a price he wanted, he subsequently had his attorney file this petition against him. And he does not have a home on site as he claimed.”

Savage explained that, “A CPG application for a small scale project like this requires a rough site plan, but not specific latitude and longitude.”

A statement was offered by Savage in the matter late Tuesday, “Mr. Garthwaite is a Connecticut resident with a seasonal place without a wastewater system or wastewater permit not suitable for regular or year-round habitation, not a home. Mr. Garthwaite offered to sell his property to David, who made an offer which Mr. Garthwaite rejected. He wanted more money for his property than it is legitimately worth. Following his rejection of Mr. Blittersdorf’s offer, Mr. Garthwaite had his attorney file this fishing expedition of a petition. Mr. Blittersdorf is confident that the Public Service Board investigation will confirm that he installed his residential wind turbines consistent with the CPG that the Board issued for them.”

According to the PSB docket in the case, Garthwaite filed a document with the PSB in early April seeking to revoke Blittersdorf’s CPG for the turbine nearest his home, alleging “…that Mr. Blittersdorf constructed one of the turbines in a location significantly different from the location Mr. Blittersdorf described when applying for the CPG.”

Blittersdorf filed a motion on April 28 to dismiss Garthwaite’s petition, “on the grounds of insufficiency and failure of service, as well as the failure to include with the petition a statement of persons entitled to notice.”

According to the PSB order filed on Friday, “Mr. Blittersdorf did not address the substance of Mr. Garthwaite’s allegations,” in his motion to dismiss.

The Department of Public Service subsequently filed a letter recommending “in the absence of information clearly establishing compliance with the CPG, the Board (PSB) open an investigation” to judge whether Garthwaite’s claim was valid and whether there was information that should lead to the board considering revoking the CPG.

The PSB has declared Blittersdorf’s motion to dismiss Garthwaite’s petition moot since an investigation is being opened.