Wind developers invite skeptical Graftonites to info session; speed study on Route 121 OK’d

Melissa Belcher of Meadowsend invites residents to a wind information session. Photos by Gloria Dufield.

Melissa Belcher of Meadowsend invites residents to a wind information session. Photos by Gloria Dufield.

By Gloria Dufield
©2015-Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Monday, June 1 Grafton Select Board meeting was well attended with many community members taking part in the continuing discussions on the Grafton-Windham wind project, a proposed speed limit change on Route 121 and the minimum bid on the town garage.

Melissa Belcher, of Meadowsend Timberlands Ltd., a partner in the proposed wind project, invited everyone to an information/social session at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 16, that both her company and Iberdrola Renewables will hold at Grafton Ponds, 783 Townshend Road. A mailing also has been sent out to all town residents, she said, adding that quarterly newsletters are sent out to update the community on the “long scientific process” and can be found at

But Belcher’s remarks were not received well by either the Select Board or members of the audience. Planning commission member Rex James said he is concerned that “the cooperate sponsored event” of June 16 would not answer the questions needing to be addressed. Liisa Kissel agreed, adding, “we deserve better.”

Planning commission member David Acker asked pointedly what the benefits resident Alan Sands and fellow commission member Steve Fisher thought the town would receive from the project. He then cautioned members of both the Select Board and Planning Commission from taking gifts from the land owner – Meadowsend – and developer Iberdrola.

Sands said the project could bring money into Grafton much the way the Maple Ridge project had in New York. Acker expressed concern about possible health implications and studies on low frequency waves from industrial turbines affecting those with autism.  He added that the potential harm to the public needed to be discussed. Board member Ron Pilette made a motion that the town request a fact sheet from both companies. Town administrator Rachel Williams said she would contact Iberdrola directly with this request.

Route 121 speed study OK’d

Board chair Sam Battaglino started the discussion on the review of the speed limit on Route 121 East with what he believed were the two main issues: 1. Resident Reto Pieth has two driveways that enter into that section of road and 2. excessive speeding along Route 121.

Sheriff's Capt. Lakin addresses speeding issues along Route 121.

Sheriff’s Capt. Robert Lakin addresses speeding issues along Route 121.

Capt. Robert Lakin of the Windham County Sheriff’s Department said the department recently conducted an impromptu study. Lakin said he spent eight hours monitoring that section of road and found that the highest speed was 44 — 9 mph above the posted limit.

He added that in most cases police won’t pull a driver over unless they are traveling at least 10 mph over the limit.

Russell Record and other said that Pieth has been known to jump out in front of cars that he believes are speeding through the area. They added that they don’t think that slowing the traffic along the road is a good idea.

In a 3 to 1 vote – member Skip Lisle as absent and Battaglino voted no – the board voted to commission a new speed study on Route 121 East between Chester Hill and Fisher Hill roads.


Town garage sale coming together

Discussion continued on the selling price for the old town garage. Pilette suggested setting the minimum bid price at 85 percent of the appraised value – or $93,500.

Resident Liisa Kissel talks about the closing of the town's only grocery.

Resident Liisa Kissel talks about the closing of the town’s only grocery.

A real estate agent asked why the price would not be set at the appraised value of $110,000. Battaglino said that since there was a lot of interest in the property, with some potential buyers wanting to be occupying the property by winter, setting a minimum bid would speed the selling process. He added that the cost to the town to keep the property over the winter is about $3,000.

When a resident questioned why the property couldn’t be kept for a park or other green space, he was reminded that the town had already voted to sell the property. The board finally decided that a minimum bid of $93,500 be included in the bid package as well as the $110,000 appraisal price.

Williams said she would check with the town attorney on what should go into the bid package. Battaglino confirmed that the bid package would also included a stipulation for keeping the town salt shed on the property until a new one could be built.

The next Select Board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, June 15 at the Grafton Elementary School. An Act 148 Solid Waste Update Informational meeting is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 17 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.

In other action:

  • Battaglino announced that a drug roundtable – open to all communities — has been set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 25 at the Grafton Elementary School. Flyers will be sent home with Grafton Elementary students.
  • Kissel said the closing of the only store in town is a “big problem.” She said there had been one community meeting to gather ideas and possible solutions. Another would be held once Bob Allen, director of the Windham Foundation, which owns the property, returns from vacation.
  • The Policy for Domestic Animal Impoundment Adoption and an edit to the Code of Conduct policy were approved by the board. The edit addressed the procedure for reporting perceived conflicts of interest. Battaglino was the only no vote on the Code of Conduct, saying that he thought the town should wait for a new policy from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.
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About the Author: Gloria Dufield is a Green Mountain Union High School and University of Vermont graduate. She has more than 15 years of experience working in higher education libraries. Her most recent writing includes marketing projects for a Vermont GIS company as well as articles for a weekly publication.

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