GRAFTON >> For two hours, the Select Board discussed the logistics for an upcoming poll that will be sent to local taxpayers or registered voters about the proposed Iberdrola wind project.
While this is non-binding advisory note as opposed to a vote, board members were cautious in choosing the exact wording for the poll to insure that it is unbiased and presented in as simple a manner as possible.
The poll will ask people to answer whether they are in favor, not in favor or undecided about the proposed 28-turbine, 96.6-megawatt Stiles Brook Wind Project in Windham County. The board used as a template a poll created regarding a wind project on the ridgelines in Brighton. In its own poll, the board voted to be clearer about the location of the proposed wind project, adding the descriptions of ridgelines on the Windham-Grafton border in the Stiles Brook Forest which is owned by Meadowsend Timberlands Limited, Iberdrola’s partner in the proposed project.
Another hotly discussed topic Friday evening was whether or not to include a comment or question section with the ballot. While some members felt this would offer a chance to hear concerns, others felt it might deter people from voting, complicating the matter and putting more items on the Select Board’s plate, obliging board members to respond to all inquiries.
“As soon as we start asking anything, like questions or including a separate piece of paper … we’re going to have people who will not vote,” said Chairman Gus Plummer.
Plummer spent the first hour of the conversation leaning toward including a comment section, but after hearing from residents and other Select Board members, he changed his mind. The board voted to “keep it simple” and not include a question or comment section. However they discussed the possibility of sending out a follow-up mailer that will offer residents the chance to submit questions or concerns.
Aside from finalizing the wording of the advisory note, the next task for the Select Board is to figure out how to cover this cost as members estimated it may cost up to $1,000 for postage, envelopes and the paper. Another concern was who will handle this job of determining who might be a part-time resident versus who is a registered voter. The board was in agreement that the task should not fall on the town clerk as it is not a “vote” but rather a poll. The board said they may try to reach out to towns like Brighton and learn from them just how they covered the cost and who took care of the job.
Members also brought up the possibility of hiring a certified public accountant for the task,
The Select Board voted to sit down and talk about the poll further on Thursday, Sept. 1 at 9 a.m. Not date has been set yet when this poll will be sent out.
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