CHESTER—The Grafton Woodlands Group, which is fighting the proposed 90-megawatt wind project proposed for a ridgeline between Windham and Grafton, came calling on the Chester Select Board on Wednesday to warn them of possible impacts that construction of the project would have on their town.
Chester Town Manager Dave Pisha said Thursday that members of the anti-wind group addressed the board and warned of possible damage that would be done to the town’s roads.
“They presented their side of the story,” said Pisha, who said several of the board members said they wanted to hear all sides. Pisha said that the town was told that the transportation of the large, heavy components would be an issue, as well as the constant traffic of concrete trucks as the project is constructed.
The Stiles Brook Project would include 28 turbines, 20 in Windham and eight in Grafton, to be built on a large, private, 5,000 acre timberland. The project developer is Spanish energy conglomerate Iberdrola Renewables.
“I’m now charged with finding out more about this particular project,” said Pisha, who said the town would hear from other sides, “not just those opposed.”
Carol Lind, co-director of Grafton Woodlands Group, said that about eight members attended the Chester meeting.
“Our point of going to Chester was to inform them that the route of many of the components will go through the center of Chester,” she said, noting that her group based their information on routes that have been made public by Iberdrola Renewables, the developer of the proposed project.
Lind said her group would be visiting other surrounding towns to make sure they are aware of potential impacts to their towns.
For instance, she said, Grafton Woodlands would be visiting the town of Rockingham, not just the town would also be used as a transportation corridor along Route 103, but also because of the logging and clearing in the Meadowsend’s Stiles Brook Forest could affect runoff to the Saxtons River, which has a history of flooding, particularly during Tropical Storm Irene. Other towns they will visit will include Londonderry and Townshend, among others.
Lind said that Iberdrola had outlined two possible transportation routes, one coming to the Windham and Grafton site via Bennington and Manchester on Route 7, and the other coming down Interstate 91, and getting off at Rockingham, and proceeding up Route 103 and Route 11.
Other towns in Vermont and New Hampshire have seen damage to their roads, which often need to be strengthen or straightened to accommodate the large components, which are often 200-feet long.
As for making the sharp corners, Lind only said, “I’m assuming they have a plan.”
John DeBenedetti, chairman of the Chester Select Board, said the Grafton Woodlands presentation was the first time the town had received information formally.
The town has been a supporter of renewable energy, and has leased a five-acre, town-owned parcel to a solar developer, and receives revenue from the project.
“A lot of our roads just got paved, just got fixed,” said DeBenedetti. “There’s a lot going on here.”
“I have a lot of homework to do,” said DeBenedetti. “There are implications for the state and town, both good and bad.”
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