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Swanton wind developers offer buyouts to neighbors

Proponents of a long-awaited wind power project near Swanton have filed an application with the Public Service Board for a construction permit.

The developers have offered to buy properties owned by neighbors living within 3,000 feet of the project if the property owners take up the offer within six months after the project is completed.

Swanton Wind, LLC filed the application Thursday for a 20-megawatt project made up of as many as seven wind turbines standing as tall as 500 feet. Developers estimate the turbines could be producing electricity as soon as 2018.

The buyout offer would apply to about 20 households located within a 3,000-foot radius of the project, said Swanton Wind representative Anthony Iarrapino. It would pay homeowners fair market value for their homes, although that value wouldn’t be appraised until after the turbines are erected, he said.

Some vocal opponents of the project live near Fairfield Pond; Iarrapino said the sound they hear outside their homes from the project will in many cases be lower than the sound limit that applies to those homes’ interior.

Wind turbines in Vermont may emit noise no louder than 45 decibels, as measured outside neighboring homes, or 30 decibels measured inside neighboring homes. The Swanton Wind project will for many Fairfield Pond homes produce 30 or fewer decibels as measured outside those homes, Iarrapino said.

Iarrapino said the buyout offer represents confidence on the part of the developers that neighbors won’t feel a need to leave once the turbines are built.

The 20 megawatts the project will generate once complete could power around 7,350 average Vermont homes, according to documents provided by Swanton Wind.

The project is being spearheaded by the Belisle family, who live and plan to remain on the land where the turbines are to be put up, Iarrapino said. They currently operate a maple sugaring operation on the property.