Wind issue could be factor in Vermont governor’s race

Saint Albans Messenger; August 15, 2016

By MIKE POLHAMUS

VTDigger.org staff

The siting of wind turbines, a divisive topic in some parts of the state, is expected to be an issue that energizes voters in the general election.

The issue paints a stark contrast between the major party nominees running for governor.

Democrat Sue Minter won handily after primary challenger Matt Dunne switched positions on wind. Dunne, in the 11th hour of the campaign, said communities should have veto power over wind projects. Previously, he supported current law, which gives communities a say in where renewable energy projects could be built, but did not allow towns to reject wind and solar farms altogether. Bill McKibben, a prominent climate change activist, dropped his endorsement of Dunne shortly afterward, and pundits have said the switcheroo was a factor in Dunne’s defeat.

Whether the state should develop more mountaintop turbine projects will likely be a factor in a close general election race for governor. Continue reading

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Admitting violation, commission offers ‘cure’

Saint Albans Messenger; August 15, 2016

Email deliberations broke open meeting law

By TOM BENTON

Messenger Staff Writer

SWANTON — The planning commission has agreed on provisions to “cure” its violations of Open Meeting Law. The town’s attorney, Ed Adrian, sent the specifics of the commission’s compliance to Swanton Wind attorney Anthony Iarrapino, whose clients, Travis and Ashley Belisle, filed the initial complaint against the planning commission in July.

In Adrian’s letter, the town acknowledges that the private email deliberations of three commissioners regarding the town’s in-progress municipal energy plan violated the law. The law requires that municipal business be conducted at duly warned public meetings, and that no majority of a municipal body — in this case, three of the commission’s five members — deliberate over public business in private. Continue reading

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Commission to start energy plan anew

Saint Albans Messenger; August 11, 2016

‘Cure’ for alleged Open Meeting violations forthcoming

By TOM BENTON

Messenger Staff Writer

SWANTON — The Planning Commission finalized their written response to allegations that private communications between commissioners violated Vermont’s Open Meeting Law during a special meeting Wednesday evening.

The commission’s chair, Jim Hubbard, also clarified that the commission will disregard all anti-wind testimony and “start from square one” in creating a municipal energy plan that will “put Swanton in the best place in the future.” The commission went into executive session soon after the meeting began to confer with the town’s lawyer, Burlington-based attorney Ed Adrian. The commission began formulating a response with Adrian during a previous special meeting on Aug. 3. Continue reading

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Swanton Wind bodes ill

Saint Albans Messenger; Saturday 8/6

If Swanton Wind is allowed to be built on Rocky Ridge in Swanton, then there is no hill, ridgeline or mountain top in Vermont that will be off limits to industrial wind turbines. Seven 500 foot tall industrial wind turbines (tallest in VT) located next to a large deer yard with a food source (highly unusual) in a rare and unique 982 foot elevation wetland which is recognized by the State of Vermont and the Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NRPC) as the highest value habitat block in the northwest region. It is also in the watershed of Lake Champlain (an impaired waterway), within 1,800-2,000 feet of seven homes (closest in VT) and in the Champlain Flywaya major east coast bird migration route. Not to mention a town vote of 731-160 to oppose the project.

Before you dismiss this with a sucks-to-be-you attitude consider this- David Blittersdorf, Vermont’s self-proclaimed renewable energy guru, has stated that to meet Vermont’s aggressive renewable energy goals it will require 200 miles of our mountain ridgelines to be covered with industrial wind turbines. At present approximately 11 miles of Vermont ridgelines are under industrial wind turbines. This includes approximately 25 miles of roads associated with these projects. With a rough ratio of 2:1 (road impacts to miles of industrial wind turbines) that leaves 189 more miles of ridgelines left to be covered with industrial wind turbines and 378 more miles of high elevation road impacts. Any hills or ridgelines where you live? For comparison, the Long Trail is 272 miles long. Continue reading

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Wind noise rule shows PSB not responsive to public

Saint Albans Messenger; August 3, 2016

The Public Service Board, which should have the word “Public” removed from it, came out a week ago with their new temporary standards on industrial wind turbine noise standards. Shocked, I guess I shouldn’t be; angry, you bet I am.

Many people from around Vermont, including the next victims of Swanton/Fairfield spent five months almost daily at the legislature, educating, informing, pleading, begging and yes, even crying, in hopes that they would hear us and pass a good bill to protect Vermonters. Again this year, they failed to do that, but this letter is not about the joke of the process that takes place in the legislature, as tragic as it is. It’s about the spillover of influence by lobbyists on our legislators and how it has been permeating many other branches of our state government for years. Continue reading

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Planning Commission deliberates privately

Saint Albans Messenger; July 28, 2016

by TOM BENTON, St. Albans Messenger; Messenger Staff Writer

SWANTON — The Swanton Planning Commission takes their new vow of transparency seriously. That was about all they offered the public at a special meeting Wednesday night, where they planned a written response to allegations that the commission violated Vermont’s Open Meeting Law.

The Planning Commission spent the duration of the meeting, more than an hour, in executive session, conferring with the town’s lawyer, Ed Adrian, about a response to allegations put forth by Anthony Iarrapino.

Iarrapino, an attorney for the Swanton Wind Project, filed a complaint with the town July 18. Continue reading

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Marianna Gamache falsely accused by Mr. Consejo

Saint Albans Messenger; July 27, 2016

In the Monday, July 25 Messenger, Michael Consejo states that Marianna Gamache violated the Open Meeting law in working with the Swanton town Planning Commission. I was at the meeting where the alleged violation was discussed. I don’t remember seeing Mr. Consejo there. The Open Meeting law violation that the Planning Commission was accused of did not involve Marianna. Marianna had presented some material to the Planning Commission at a scheduled Public Meeting. The PC had requested help from Marianna for wording for their town plan. A member of the board had asked her to gather that information and Marianna did just that. She then presented her findings to the Planning Commission at a public meeting. Continue reading

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