Grafton considers townwide vote on wind project

By Gloria Dufield
©2015 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The proposed wind project in Grafton continues to raise concerns for residents and again was the focus of much of the Monday, July 6 Select Board meeting.

Resident Kent Armstrong began by stating that the meeting last month held jointly by landowner Meadowsend Timberlands Ltd. and project developer Iberdrola Renewables had “cleared up” many of the questions town residents had on the wind project.

Select Board members Ron Pilette, left, and Sam Battaglino. Photos by Gloria Dufield

Select Board members Ron Pilette, left, and Sam Battaglino. Photos by Gloria Dufield

He then asked each board member if he would give Grafton residents the opportunity to vote on the wind project. Both Skip Lisle and Ron Pilette agreed with little hesitation that they would give the vote to the town residents. Board chair Sam Battaglino would not answer the question saying that he thought he needed more information. Noralee Hall said she “leaned” toward giving the vote and would not change that answer when asked by Armstrong to clarify what “lean” meant.

Board member Gus Plummer was not at the meeting.

A number of audience members stated that a petition of 25 voters was all that was needed for a vote to be called, even if the Select Board disagreed. Resident Don Dougall said that it appeared the Select Board member’s views on a wind project vote were irrelevant.

Select Board member Noralee Hall.

Select Board member Noralee Hall.

Following closely in the agenda, Battaglino announced the appointment of members to the newly formed Wind Information Subcommittee. Board members Pilette and Plummer and Grafton Fire Chief Rich Thompson will serve on the committee and field questions from the public to Meadowsend and Iberdrola. Alan Sands asked if a meeting had been held to discuss the appointments. Battaglino stated that board members had agreed on the appointments earlier that afternoon.

Dougall questioned if this was the approved way to make appointments. Town Administrator Rachel Williams was asked to check with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.

Brian Case, who owns a second home in Grafton, said he thought that the town should retain ownership of the old town garage property to use for a welcome center or something similar.  But Dougall said that residents had already voted to sell the garage, a minimum bid had been set and additional money would be needed if the plan involved removing the garage from the property.

Homeowner Brian Case suggests an alternate use of the town garage.

Homeowner Brian Case suggests an alternate use of the town garage.

Battaglino suggested that Case return with a proposal and bid offer. But Case said he was only looking to gauge interest to see if there is enough interest to “corral” it for the potential project.  Battaglino said it was a “good idea” and suggested that something be put in the Grafton News to gather input from similar minded residents.

In other action:

  • Peter Jeziorski questioned the board on businesses closing and school consolidation. Jerziorski, a Grafton business owner, asked if the recent closing of the store and cafe were of concern to the board and what involvement they had with the land owners in reopening these two businesses. Battaglino said that Windham Foundation director Bob Allen was “actively” looking to find tenants for the two vacant businesses and suggested that the remaining business owners in town ask to meet with Allen to discuss their concerns. Jeziorski followed by asking if the Select Board had been in communication with the school board regarding the recently passed law focusing on school consolidation. Battaglino stated it had not.
  • The municipal tax rate was approved by the board at a close to level fund, with the residential rate $1.9207 and a non-resident rate at $1.9833.
  •  Town Clerk and Treasurer Kimberly Record presented and the board approved the Internal Controls Worksheet. The worksheet is required by state statutes for a yearly financial audit and to show transparency to the public.
  • Record also reported that three years ago 200 dogs were registered in town but only 140 have been registered the last two years. She and Cynthia Gibbs will be conducting a dog census to resolve this discrepancy.
  • The board voted to not waive a 3 percent penalty that is levied against those residents who fail to complete their Homestead Declaration paperwork.  Funds from this penalty go to the town.
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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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