Saint Albans Messenger; September 22, 2016
Planning Commission split as public hearing nears
By TOM BENTON
Messenger Staff Writer
SWANTON — The Swanton Planning Commission’s Wednesday evening meeting was a verbal game of baseball, with the board unofficially split into two teams, each taking its turn to drive in their arguments on proposed language for the town’s municipal energy plan.
The language in question was presented to the commission in April, drafted by Republican Representative Marianna Gamache, Danby native Annette Smith of Vermonters for a Clean Environment and Justin London, of unidentified municipality.
Private deliberations regarding the three-page proposal led to a complaint that commissioners violated Vermont’s Open Meeting Law, beginning two months of allegations, legal processes and finally legal remedies.
During its two-hour debate last night, the commission was split down the middle on how to approach the proposed language.
Commissioners Ed Daniel and Ross Lavoie argued for a more relaxed, factbased approach to renewable energy siting, while commissioners Andrew Larocque and Sara Luneau-Swan pitched more constrictive language. Continue reading
Saint Albans Messenger; September 21, 2016
I read with some weariness the letter by Swanton resident Chris Maynard wherein he mentions the altruistic Belisle family, who claim to be taking steps to forestall global warming. I believe that Mr. Maynard deceives himself here on at least two accounts. First, the contribution of the proposed project to halting climate change is, unfortunately, infinitesimal, and is overwhelmed by the documented growth of coal mining and use in China and India. Second, this project adds zero to Vermont’s renewable energy goals if the renewable energy credits are sold out of state.
I too am interested in Vermont’s motto “Freedom and Unity.” In fact, I’m currently reading “Freedom and Unity, A History of Vermont,” by Sherman, Sessions, and Potash. I note the relevance of the comments by George Perkins Marsh, Vermont Railroad Commissioner in 1858. In his third annual report, Marsh writes, “… the railroad companies, in some of the United States, are so numerous and so strong in pecuniary resources and in the personal influence on their managers and shareholders, that they both exert great weight in modifying the legislation of the State in matters affecting their corporate interest, and even control the political action of the government and the people.”
Vermont did escape some of the worst abuses, but Marsh warns that vigilance and a strong hand were required to keep the railroads in check and make them fully serve their passenger and freight customers. That was nearly 160 years ago. You may swap the word “railroad” for “renewables” and his critique would apply today.
Saint Albans Messenger; September 21, 2016
Public vote down the road for selectboard
By TOM BENTON Messenger Staff Writer
SWANTON — The Swanton Wind Project’s Public Service Board application was on the table, literally, at Tuesday night’s town selectboard meeting. It was the elephant in the room.
The project’s opponents dominated the public seating, eagerly awaiting an indication of what steps the selectboard might take toward blocking the project. But that conversation took place only in private, for legal reasons, during an executive session at the end of the night.
Selectboard Chair Joel Clark told those in attendance the selectboard had only recently received the thick application, and had not had time to digest its contents yet.
The selectboard will vote in public on any decided course of action, Clark said. Continue reading
Saint Albans Messenger; August 15, 2016
After reading Chris Maynard’s letter to the editor noting that the Swanton Wind project embraces the Vermont motto “freedom and unity”, I felt I must respond. Unfortunately this project accomplishes neither of these two goals. Freedom not only allows you to do and say what you want, but it also allows you freedom FROM certain things, such as a neighbor’s encroachment onto your land, and into your home, via noise. Although I agree that the developer should be allowed to do as he pleases with his own property, I also believe that I shouldn’t be impacted by their actions in a negative way. They are free to do as they will, up on the ridge behind my house, but when the noise from their project trespasses past my boundary line, and into my home, that is when I become concerned. My freedom from such negative impacts should also be considered.
I do agree with the unity component of his commentary, but it is contrary to the reasons he states. The town of Swanton took a townwide vote with the result of 731 to 160. The developers had every opportunity, just as those opposed, to get their message out. Also, the select board and planning commission rejected the idea of a Swanton wind farm. I would have to say that we are unified in opposing this project. Continue reading
Saint Albans Messenger; August 13, 2016
Ihave lived in Vermont for the better part of 30 years. My family and I moved into our present home in the Rocky Ridge neighborhood, in Swanton, in 2011. We had our home built on Land that Travis Belisle sold to us and we were informed prior to our purchase, and again at the time of our signing, that he had future development ideas for the hilltop behind our house, which might include a wind farm. Knowing this my family and I continued forward with the purchase of our land and the building of our home.
Having been born in and growing up in Vermont I have always expected two things, cold winters and short summers. With that said, in the past 30 years it is clear to see that our climate is changing. I remember listening to my parents talk about having snow banks piled up to the roof of their barn and sledding down it. Now it is rare that we have sustained snow throughout a winter. Continue reading
Saint Albans Messenger; August 12, 2016
Swanton Wind stated at their press conference on Thursday, September 8th that they were filing their petition for a Certificate of Public Good for their Industrial Wind Project. They also announced that they are offering to buy out 20 homes within 3000 feet of the turbines. This is tacit admission that it will be impossible to live that close to the wind project. In the wind industry, this is referred to as a Property Value Guarantee. People living near a proposed wind project are concerned about their property values – for most people, their house is their biggest investment. For properly sited wind projects, a Property Value Guarantee is a way for the project to show that it is going to be a good neighbor.
There are a few things wrong with what we have heard so far about the Swanton Wind buyout. The buyout should be at pre-project prices based on comparables that are not near a wind project. If neighbors are concerned about their property values, then show them that you aren’t concerned about value dropping by being willing to pay what it is worth now. That would be putting your money where your mouth is. That would show true faith in your project. Continue reading
Saint Albans Messenger; August 9, 2016
Bullying is that feeling of intimidation where if you don’t toe the line, something bad might happen to you or someone else.
Is accusing someone of doing something with no proof slander or lying? If they put it in print are they a libeler?
Kyle Martel, spokesperson for Wind Works VT and an associate of KSE Partners did both in a recent letter to the editor. He accuses anti-wind people of leaving an anti-Semitic voicemail in October 2015 threatening the life of a developer. Whoever did that is wrong and should be punished. Assuming you know who did it when in truth you have no idea is also wrong. On Rocky Ridge in Swanton where an industrial wind factory is proposed several neighbors had their tires slashed in Dec. 2015. Did anyone see who did it? No. Could we assume that the developer or his supporters were involved, sure. Can we publicly accuse them, absolutely not! Continue reading