Windham to count 2nd homeowner ballots after Nov. 8 vote

By John Hoover
©2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

As Windham lurches toward a November vote on a proposed wind farm, it is no surprise that a number of items at the Windham Select Board’s bimonthly meeting Monday night dealt with the commercial wind installation proposal in the Stiles Brook tract owned by Meadowsend Timberlands of New Hampshire.

Select Board chair Frank Seawright presented a study to a capacity crowd at Town Office on the effect of wind farms on residential property values that was conducted in 2011 by Illinois State University. The study has been cited by proponents of wind turbines as supporting their position that wind farms do not have a negative impact of housing values.

Windham Select Board members (from right to left) Maureen Bell, Kord Scott and chair Frank Seawright. Far left is Alison Trowbridge, board secretary. Photos by John Hoover

From left, board secretary Alison Trowbridge, Windham Select Board members Frank Seawright, Kord Scott and Maureen Bell. Photos by John Hoover

But Seawright said that the original data that went into the study was not made available to him. He instead presented maps showing that the 3,300 real estate transactions that formed the basis of the study were up to 16 miles from the wind farm. He also said that one of the founding members of the Center for Renewable Energy, under whose auspices the study was done, was Iberdrola Renewables.

Alison Cummings, a Lister in Windham and a long-time real estate agent, presented data on the sale of homes in Windham and three nearby towns from 2011 to 2016: Townsend, Jamaica and Londonderry.  The yearly average sales were: Windham 8.4; Townsend 16.4; Jamaica 17.6 and Londonderry 33.6. She also noted that the number of sales so far in 2016 showed that only 2 in Windham were pending a sale while there were 18 completed sales in Townsend, 15 in Jamaica and 31 in Londonderry.

Seawright also announced that the mail-in ballots from second homeowners will be counted after the Nov. 8 General Election, following the official count of the registered voters. The ballots, seeking opinion on the wind proposal, were originally going to be counted by the Select Board soon after the Oct. 7 deadline for their return.

Grafton, which is also voting on its portion of the wind project, has decided to adopt the vote and count schedule of Windham. You can read that article here.


Lister Alison Cummings, who is also a real estate agent, offers sales figures comparisons in four towns.

Roy Giarrusso, a second homeowner, stated in an email that the delay was in response to a statement made by Art Sasse, communications director for Iberdrola, in which he said “… there has been a key development in Windham that would alter my assurance that we were satisfied with the way Windham was proceeding toward its November vote.”

Sasse had written that the way the ballots were to be counted — by the Select Board in early October — “raises serious questions about verification accuracy and seems to undermine the interests of the registered voters of Windham by trying to manipulate and intimidate the fair and legal vote in November.”

Giarrusso added that the Friends of Windham, a local group working against the wind project, is concerned that “there is mounting evidence and reason to be concerned that Iberdrola will plan to use the second homeowner vote as pretext and an excuse not to honor its longstanding commitment to abide by the results of the residents vote on Nov. 8.”

Energy-efficient garage, Burbee Pond bridge

William Dunkel

William Dunkel

The board also heard a presentation from William Dunkel, representing the town energy committee, relating information about discussions with ISA Solar of Brattleboro to make the town garage more energy efficient. Ideas presented included the installation of a heat pump for the office and garage and the installation of solar panels on the roof of the sand shed. Dunkel also suggested that the board consider charging the energy committee with devising a comprehensive energy plan for the town, which the board readily accepted.

In other business, the board accepted a bid from John Pozzi to replace a bridge off Burbee Pond Road, adopted a vicious dog ordinance that will go into effect 60 days after posting and agreed to support Vance Bell’s plans for the redevelopment of the town website

During the public comment, Windham homeowner Mark Emmons asked each member of the Select Board to publicly state his position on the proposed wind project. Seawright and Maureen Bell both stated their opposition to it while Kord Scott said that his personal opinion didn’t matter, that his role was to listen to the opinions of all Windham’s citizens. Imme Maurath said that “it is the board’s responsibility to support the town plan,” which specifically prohibits commercial wind developments.

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About the Author: After a 35-year career as a high school social studies teacher, John Hoover and his wife, Sally, retired to Vermont. He lives in Windham where he serves as a Justice of the Peace and Library Trustee. He works part time as a book-seller at Misty Valley Books, is active at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and sings in several choral groups.

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