HOLLAND – Dairy farmers Brian and Kim Champney presented the Holland Select Board Monday with a 112-signature petition in support of their plans to put up an industrial-grade wind turbine on their Dairy Air Farm.
Sixty-five signatures were from Holland residents, 41 from surrounding towns and six from elsewhere in Vermont.
The Champneys, accompanied by their three young boys, also brought plenty of supporters to the select board meeting Monday in the school, where they and their consultants provided preliminary information about Dairy Air Wind project.
The select board put off taking a position on the wind project or reacting to another petition submitted by a group called Citizens for Responsible Energy in Holland, asking the board to oppose the wind project.
Brian Champney asked the board to delay decisions until more information is available.
Martha Staskus of Vermont Environmental Research Associates, which is working with the Champneys and developer David Blittersdorf on the wind project, shared some preliminary information.
“We’d very much like to come back to the community,” Staskus said, when they have gathered all the information and are ready to give the official 45-day notice in advance of applying for a certificate of public good from the Vermont Public Service Board.
Brian Champney said they would ask for a meeting in the fall at the school.
Selectmen said they are trying to decide if it benefits or hurts the town.
Town Clerk Diane Judd, speaking on behalf of the select board, said the town should hold a referendum on the wind turbine project.
But she said the board has to consider how to include not just voters but property owners as well, and how to count them.
Judd called it premature to make any decision now.
Stastkus read a letter to the select board and community, saying the Champneys will need a certificate of public good to put up a meteorological tower to confirm existing studies that show the wind in the area will support a wind turbine.
Staskus said the turbine would be less than 500 feet tall, similar to those at Georgia Mountain in Milton.
It will have a remote operation system in its base and be managed by operators in Milton, she said.
The turbine would be located on less than one acre of concrete pad not far from School Road and just south of the intersection with Twin Bridge Road. The consultants will work with state officials to determine if they will need stormwater runoff and construction permits.
Brian Champney said he owns the homes closest to the wind project. They don’t know how many homes are within a mile but will gather that information.
Vermont Electric Cooperative is conducting a study and is expected to report that the turbine will not adversely affect the grid’s reliability in the area. The turbine would be linked by an underground line to a new three-phase power line on School Road that will link with the main line on Valley Road.
Studies began this month on natural resources and wildlife. Staskus said early indications are there are only a few wetlands which would not be affected by the turbine. Bird and bat studies are due by September.
A sound impact assessment is underway. Staskus said they will ask if sound monitoring equipment can be placed at the town clerk’s office, near the school on School Road.
The turbine developer will pay $20,000 a year in municipal taxes and $25,000 annual in state education taxes, Staskus said.
Staskus and John Zimmerman of VERA could not say if the site is close enough to the road to cause ice throw from the blades in winter.
Wind critics from Holland and from other communities tried to ask some questions, but were shouted down by Champney supporters until the board imposed order and limited questions to local residents or property owners.
When selectmen asked what good the turbine would be for the town, supporter Stacy Atherton said it would preserve a functioning farm.
Several residents said they hope that the turbine doesn’t bring industrial noise to this pastoral community.
“We don’t want that either,” Kim Champney said.
The board also postponed a discussion about the town’s policy on how to work with energy developers, which was written in 2012 and adopted by the select board.
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