Lowell to revisit anti-wind article at Town Meeting
BETH GARBITELLI, Associated Press
MONTPELIER (AP) -- The Lowell select board is expected to add an anti-wind power article to its March Town Meeting Day agenda after the Vermont Supreme Court ordered it to reconsider an item that was first was passed over at the meeting almost three years ago, officials said Tuesday.
Select Board Chair Richard Pion said he wished the town had considered the article in 2010 when it first went before the town.
"I expect they will either pass it over or defeat it," Pion said. "It makes no difference how people vote, there’s nothing to become of it."
The 21 turbines of the Kingdom Community Wind project are producing electricity, and the taxes paid by Green Mountain Power are supplementing the town budget.
"Last year, this wind money paid everybody’s municipal tax," Pion said.
But Lowell resident Ed Wesolow, who took the issue to the Vermont Supreme Court, said the ruling Friday was a win for Democracy, because the court ruled the town must consider the issue.
"I was hoping they’d do the honorable thing and do what they should have done in the first place," which is hold a special town meeting. "All this is, is asking the minority to have a voice to express the fact that we don’t like the tactics that have taken place or the ramifications that will hurt this town in the long run."
Lowell is home to Green Mountain Power’s Kingdom Community Wind project. In 2010, before it was built, 75 percent of residents at Town Meeting Day voted in favor of the project. The Lowell wind project generated fierce opposition from opponents who felt it would scar the ridgeline and provide no environmental benefit.
In 2010, Wesolow and others petitioned to place an anti-wind article on the Town Meeting Day agenda. The proposed article accused the wind project of violating private property rights, destroying stream headwaters and depressing real estate values.
The article was tabled at the meeting by a majority vote before any discussion could occur and later requests for a special meeting to re-address the article were dismissed by the town.
But Wesolow and the others took the issue to court. A Superior Court judge ruled the town should reconsider the issue. The town appealed, but on Friday, the Vermont Supreme Court sided with Wesolow.
GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said that before the project was built the company held numerous meetings and information sessions for the residents of Lowell, but none have been held for the town since then.
"We did everything we could to give information about the project," said Schnure.
Schnure cited lack of interest and the availability for tours of the operational project to explain the lack of recent meetings about the project for Lowell residents.
"There was a very tiny vocal opposition that was behind this article," Schnure said.
"I applaud Ed Wesolow’s effort to have a fair and open process," said Steve Wright, a former commissioner of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department who has been active in the fight against the Kingdom Community Wind project. "Any effort to increase the debate and the debate around effective climate change action is entirely appropriate, not only appropriate, but necessary.
"Those towers will be memorials to bad decision making," Wright said of the turbines. "They already are."
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