HOLLAND – The select board this week hired an attorney to represent the town when Dairy Air Wind applies for a certificate of public good for an industrial-sized wind turbine on Dairy Air Farm.
Dairy Air Wind’s consultants have already filed a 45-day notice of the intent to seek the permit for a 499-foot-tall turbine off School Road, a mile from the Holland school.
The application could be filed before Christmas.
Dairy Air Wind has already filed an application for permission to raise a meteorological “met” tower to measure wind speeds and other data near the turbine site.
At a special meeting Wednesday in the Holland school, the select board hired Cindy Ellen Hill of Middlebury to help the board through the complex process involving permitting of an energy project.
Hill said before the meeting began that she has been active in other energy projects, including the proposed multiple wind turbines in Swanton.
Voters and taxpayers in Holland are overwhelmingly opposed to the wind project, according to a mail-in survey conducted earlier this fall.
The results were 314 opposed, 59 in favor, and 44 with no opinion.
About three dozen residents met with the select board before they went into executive session to talk with Hill and with the chairman of the Holland Planning Commission, Andrew Bouchard.
They wanted to know how much it will cost to challenge the application for the Dairy Air Wind turbine.
Town Clerk Diane Judd said Holland has $2,500 in the budget for legal fees.
The cost to challenge the wind project is likely much more than that, residents said.
“We’ve got some wiggle room in the budget,” she said.
The town can’t tap the highway fund if there are savings from having a warm early winter, she said.
Resident Mitch Wonson said the town can borrow in an emergency.
Bruce Wilkie said the town has a mandate to spend money to oppose the project to stop the town from being defaced.
They also wanted to know the issues the town would raise in the challenge, including ice throw from the blades, and whether the town could address the impact on property values.
Other residents want the select board to raise concerns about noise and health impacts. One resident pointed out that the school doesn’t serve nuts because some students are allergic. He said the state should not allow wind turbines because some people are negatively affected by the sounds.
Wonson said that there’s no question that the town needs an attorney. The town should at least have an attorney to negotiate the payment that Dairy Air Wind should pay in municipal taxes if the project is approved, he said.
Others noted that the goal is to slow the project down long enough so that the developer, David Blittersdorf of AllEarth Renewables, walks away from the project.
Some expressed concern that if the town doesn’t stop this project, they would see more farms apply to put up industrial-sized turbines.
The Holland Planning Commission has asked to intervene in the met tower application. The commission wants time to develop the town’s energy plan to show where other types of renewable energy projects would be welcome in Holland, Bouchard said.