September 24, 2016

Holland: Select board opposes wind test tower

HollandSelect Board Opposes Wind Test Tower; Board To Survey Voters, Taxpayers Over Wind Turbine, Must Hold Special Meeting Due To Code Of Ethics Petition | Robin Smith | Caledonian Record | September 23, 2016 |

HOLLAND – The select board voted Wednesday to oppose a tower to measure wind speeds for an industrial wind turbine planned on Dairy Air Farm.

The board is expected to seek to become an intervenor in the state review process of the meteorological or “met” tower. The select board already voted to oppose the nearly 500-foot industrial wind turbine for Dairy Air Farm.

The board will survey voters and property owners about the wind turbine.

The board also called a special town meeting for 6 p.m. Oct. 26 to hold a vote on whether town officials should follow a code of ethics.

Dairy Air Farm owners Brian and Kim Champney want to erect the met tower and wind turbine on their farm field on School Road, less than a mile from the town’s elementary school and near the road itself.

Dairy Air Wind LLC, a project by renewable energy developer David Blittersdorf, has served required advanced notice to the town and neighbors that he intends to apply for a certificate of public good for the met tower with the Vermont Public Service Board.

The location for the met tower is about a football field from School Road, and near where Blittersdorf wants to put the single wind turbine. Consultants working with Blittersdorf said the met tower could be still collecting data when they apply for a certificate of public good for the wind turbine.

Resident John Wagner, a spokesman for a group of people opposing the wind turbine, asked the select board to oppose the met tower.

Wagner pointed out that the met tower is a precursor to the wind turbine. A met tower says to future property buyers that a wind turbine will go “right here.”

The impact on property values will begin when the met tower goes up, Wagner said.

He warned that not opposing the project will tell other developers that Holland welcomes more wind turbines.

Wind Survey

The survey as approved by the select board will ask the opinion of voters and taxpayers about the wind turbine project, asking if they support the idea, oppose it or have no opinion. It doesn’t specify Dairy Air Farm but refers to the one turbine.

The survey will go in the mail to registered voters and to property owners.

A property owner with more than one lot, like Gray Farms owner Keith Gray of Derby, will only get one survey and one vote, regardless of how many properties owned.

A property with more than one owner will still only qualify for one survey and one vote. Town Clerk Diane Judd said the survey will go to whomever is the designated contact for the property when it comes to sending tax bills.

Gray and other property owners asked for a chance to have a say on the wind turbine.

Judd is modeling the survey on how Brighton did a similar survey over the now-defunct Seneca Mountain Wind Project. She will cross-tabulate taxpayers and property owners to attempt to limit how many letters go out, but to make sure everyone eligible gets to answer it.

Select Board Chairman Brett Farrow, who abstained from voting on the motion to oppose the wind turbine until the survey is completed, said it will be interesting to see how everyone feels about it.

Code of Ethics

Resident Susan Bushee presented the petition to have town officials follow a code of ethics to Judd in early September.

Judd said there are enough signatures.

The select board will ask the Vermont League of Cities and Towns to review the referendum question to make sure it is legally binding on the town. If the League opinion is that the question is not binding or doesn’t have to be presented to voters, the select board will explain that on the date of the meeting, Farrow said.

Several residents complained that they have seen town officials involved in conflicts of interest since the wind project was announced.

Others pointed out that the school board members agree to obey a code of ethics when they first begin to serve.

Some residents asked why the special meeting couldn’t be held during the Nov. 8 general election. But Judd said that state statutes require a special meeting be called within 60 days of the presentation of a petition with enough signatures.

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