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Wind farm developer wants member booted off siting board

Gary Snell doesn’t want the North Ridge Wind Farm built. He makes no bones about it. But he was still surprised when he recently was served a legal notice from the developer.

It claims he’s not fit to serve on the siting board that will rule on the wind farm. After all, he had county and town backing when appointed.

“The siting board has a role of looking at all sides of the project, both pro and con. Avangrid wants me off because I object to the project,” said Gary Snell, co-chair of Concerned Citizens for Rural Preservation.

Wind farm developer Avangrid says the project will benefit the towns of Hopkinton and Parishville. The developer says when lease payments and other contributions are totaled up, it could mean a million dollars per year for the local economy.

The developer says Snell can’t be objective about it.

“Just like it would be unfair for a judge to preside over a case for a company he owns or a group he belongs to, it’s not appropriate for a member of an opposition group to simultaneously preside over the case,” said Paul Copleman, Avangrid spokesman.

The North Ridge Wind Farm has caused the most controversy in Parishville and Hopkinton. People there say it has pitted neighbor against neighbor. Some have opted to take the payments offered by Avangrid. Others are dead set against it.

Other members of Concerned Citizens for Rural Preservation say for that reason, kicking someone off the board just because of their opinion doesn’t make sense.

“For anyone living in this small community not to have an opinion by this time would be someone whose not paying attention. And of course Gary is paying attention,” said Luke Martin, co-chair of Concerned Citizens for Rural Preservation.

Avangrid says it will be two or three years before it is able to break ground on the North Ridge Wind Farm.

But opponents say key actions are just around the corner, such as the company’s application to the siting board.