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Hopkinton residents question Conservation Commission mandate after chairman’s pro-wind comments  

Credit:  By Cynthia Drummond, Sun staff writer | The Westerly Sun | Oct 21, 2019 | www.thewesterlysun.com ~~

HOPKINTON – Several residents took advantage of the public forum during Monday’s Town Council meeting to question the mandate of the Conservation Commission and the involvement of its chairman, Harvey Buford, in advocating the installation of industrial wind turbines in the town.

They also asked the council to reactivate the Economic Development Commission, saying that body, not the Conservation Commission, should be charged with evaluating the economic benefits of renewable energy projects.

“Reacting to who comes knocking is not a good method,” Carol Desrosiers said. “Why not resurrect the Economic Development Commission and actively participate and lead it? As stated on the town website, ‘the Economic Development Commission would be responsible for studying investigating, promoting and encouraging the preservation, expansion and sound development in the town of industry, business, commerce and tourism. The commission shall be considered the economic development agency in the town.’ That’s where this type of work belongs. It doesn’t belong in the hands of the Conservation Commission or any random group of residents.”

Residents both for and against wind energy are still reacting to the Oct. 7 decision by the council to prohibit industrial wind turbines in the town.

There is also lingering controversy over Conservation Commission Chairman Harvey Buford’s advocacy of wind energy and his letter to The Sun, published on Oct. 14, in which he referred to residents who oppose wind turbines as “NIMBYs.”

Some residents, including Steve Wiehl, opposed Buford’s reappointment to the Commission, which the council unanimously approved on Oct. 7.

“I heard this council, to a member, talk about how wonderful he was as a man and how much he’s contributed to the town over the years, and that may be accurate partially now and may have been accurate at another point in time, but this is not the professional that chairs one of the most important commissions in town that I’ve seen in action as of late,” he said. “I’ve watched Mr. Buford attempt to support a very small segment of our population with a very special financial entitlement with the introduction of wind turbines to Hopkinton.”

Edward Lowe said he took great exception to Buford’s letter to The Sun criticizing residents’ opposition to wind turbines.

“In this letter, the chairman goes on to denigrate citizens’ exercise of their First Amendment rights to influence exercises of government power, specifically the government promotion of industrial wind turbines as green energy sources,” he said. “The H.C.C. chairman characterizes the citizens’ testimony, evidence and submittals, documenting the deficiency of land-based industrial wind turbines, including data acquired from the operation of state of the art industrial wind turbines, as ‘just so many NIMBY claims.’”

Lowe also questioned the mandate of the Conservation Commission to evaluate industrial power generation, calling it “an objective that is at odds with the scope and responsibilities of the Hopkinton Conservation Commission specified in Hopkinton’s town governing documents.”

The council could not respond to comments during the public forum, but the town will renew its efforts to recruit members to the Economic Development Commission.

Source:  By Cynthia Drummond, Sun staff writer | The Westerly Sun | Oct 21, 2019 | www.thewesterlysun.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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