Letter: Too much to ask of a small town

Too much to ask of a small town

Editor of the Reformer:

In your coverage of the wind issue in Windham ("Select Board asks Iberdrola to suspend project," June 22) you note "A group of residents submitted a letter to the Select Board in April, which was signed by over 60 residents. According to (Kord Scott, a member of the Windham Select Board) that letter asked the board to form a bipartisan committee to do exactly what the developer is asking for."

The residents' letter to which Scott refers makes it clear that those who signed want to engage Iberdrola in discussion, in order to answer people's questions and clarify issues, and to press Iberdrola to be fair to the town. Such a discussion could and should have been held at any time by anyone, and can still go on, in the run-up to the vote on Nov. 8. Iberdrola has frequently addressed the town, in person and by correspondence, and all of Windham's citizens have always had and continue to have free access to both Iberdrola reps and the owner of the tract of land where the proposed turbines would go.

But the type of negotiation that Iberdrola requested in its June 13 letter to the Windham Select Board is quite different from such discussion. It would result in an agreement by the town to allow placement of turbines here. Reaching such an agreement would require that the town pay for expert advice and legal counsel, estimated by an experienced negotiator to cost around $100,000. The town is being asked, in effect, to independently develop its own protective standards for the environment and to create setbacks and noise standards to protect townspeople from potential health hazards such as noise and shadow-flicker. All this with the naive expectation that the enormous and enormously experienced Iberdrola would actually agree and adhere to these standards. That the state expects a small town to bear the cost of and to actually win in such a negotiation, is absurd. And it is a reflection of the state's cruel and possibly illegal unwillingness to develop protective standards for its environment and its citizens, even while encouraging unlimited access to our ridgelines by wind developers.

But perhaps even more importantly, such a negotiated agreement would have to be signed by Windham's Select Board, before it could be offered as a done deal for voters to vote on in November. And a majority of our Select Board would not sign the agreement, for the reasons stated in its June 20 letter to Iberdrola. Even a curtailed project would irreparably damage the fragile, high-elevation Stiles Brook Forest proposed site, and would therefore be unacceptable.

Nancy Tips, Windham, June 23


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