Grafton board officially sets wind vote for Nov. 8

By Cynthia Prairie
©2016 – Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Grafton Select Board on Monday night voted unanimously to make Tuesday, Nov. 8, the date for the townwide vote on the Iberdrola wind project and also adopted the same language that Windham adopted for its vote.

Select Board member John Turner discusses plans for explaining the economic impact of the wind project on taxpayers. Photos by Cynthia Prairie.

Select Board member John Turner discusses plans for explaining the economic impact of the wind project on taxpayers. Photos by Cynthia Prairie.

Registered voters in the Town of Grafton will be able to go to the polls, at Town Hall, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on General Election Day to not only vote on the presidential, congressional and statewide offices, but to cast a yes or no vote on Article 1, which reads:

Shall the registered voters of The Town of Grafton support the development of the Stiles Brook Wind Project, as proposed by Iberdrola Renewables, to be located on the Stiles Brook Forest, owned by Meadowsend Timberlands LTD?

Iberdrola has said it will abide by the wishes of the two towns expressed by the voters.

In preparation for the vote, the board also set the dates for several informational meetings:

  • The hydrology forum, which will include a panel of experts to talk about the impact of such a wind project on the way water moves, will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10 at the Grafton Church on Main Street.
  • Select Board member John Turner, who has been heading up the economics information committee on the wind project, intends to have his panel set up computers at Grafton Elementary School to help residents navigate a state website to discover how the wind project could impact their tax burden. That event is tentatively set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22.
  • Two other informational meetings  are planned during which time the three wind impact committees — economics,  health and environment — can present information and answer questions. Both will be held at Grafton Elementary School, if available, and both are set for 6 p.m. The first would on Tuesday, Oct. 25. The second would be on Thursday, Oct. 27 and would include a representative of Iberdrola Renewables.

The board also agreed 4 to 1 to poll non-resident taxpayers by sending out a survey with a note suggesting that if another Grafton taxpayer lives in the house, he or she can ask for a survey as well.  With the help of a town lister, the number of parcels identified as non-resident taxpayers was whittled down to 302. Properties owned by foundations, estates and irrevocable trusts will only get one survey.

Pilette presents Energy Chapter proposal

In an attempt to move work on the Energy Chapter of Town Plan along, Select Board chair Ron Pilette on Monday introduced a proposal that thought would be presented from the Select Board to the Planning Commission, which is charged with creating a Town Plan. He called his three and a half page document an attempt to bring together two “dramatically opposed” proposals for the Energy Chapter.

Chair Ron Pilette, left, explains the reasoning behind his Energy Chapter proposal Al Sands and Cynthia Gibbs listen.

Chair Ron Pilette, left, explains the reasoning behind his Energy Chapter proposal Al Sands and Cynthia Gibbs listen.

Pilette added that while he had crafted a compromise on the section addressing the use of solar arrays in Grafton, the wind section was “not a compromise but addresses what I feel is important and moves away from extremes.” You can read that document here.

Work on the Town Plan has been under way for more than three years, but has been stymied by disagreements on the Planning Commission over wording of several chapters. In early September, Pilette tied the completion of at least a rough draft of the Town Plan to the wind vote, contending that it would help inform voters when they went to the polls. At the time, Pilette believed the vote could not be held until late 2016 or early 2017.

Just two weeks later, he told the Select Board that as the Town Plan was coming together, it was possible to hold the vote on Nov. 8 since it looked as though an Energy Chapter draft could be finished.

Sands says he believes Pilette should submit his proposal as an individual.

Sands says he believes Pilette should submit his proposal as an individual.

However, Planning Commission chair Eric Stevens rewrote a version of the Energy Chapter, offering deference to wind towers over aesthetics, among other things. You can read that chapter here.  Stevens also said he would not be presenting a draft Town Plan at Monday’s Select Board meeting, as Pilette had hoped. And, Stevens said, “The Town Plan could make the Certificate of Public Good process more difficult for Iberdrola down on the line if the (earlier) language … were to prevail and I don’t want that to happen.”

Residents attending Monday’s meeting as well as several Select Board members objected to Pilette’s proposal being presented on behalf of the entire board, saying that it wasn’t the board’s place to make changes in the plan. Pilette said his document was just a suggestion and the Planning Commission could reject it.

In the end, it was decided that Pilette would submit the document as an individual. Interviewed later, Stevens said that it was acceptable to him that Pilette would make his proposal as a private citizen, and not as a Select Board member. He added that the commission would be taking up the suggestions at its next meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: FeaturedGraftonLatest News

About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

RSSComments (1)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Valerie A Rooney MD says:

    To the editor:

    Thank you for keeping those of us who cannot make it to all the meetings about Iberdrola’s wind proposal informed.

    Although I would strongly prefer NO large scale wind farms in our area, I think the Town Plan draft proposal on energy submitted by Ron Pilette is a reasonable compromise. I thank the Planning Commission and Select Board for their hard work, and urge them to vote to pass the Town Plan with the proposed compromise language as soon as possible.