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Attend meetings; let your voice be heard
By Carolynn and Greg Schipa
Monday night, April 8, we attended the Warren Planning Commission’s regularly scheduled public meeting. I was surprised there was no “public” there – just the board members, the zoning administrator and the secretary. The major item on the agenda was “energy” so we thought it would be an interesting and important meeting. It certainly was.
The seven-member board discussed their unquestioned support for wind towers (and solar installations) in the town of Warren, the Warren Village Historic District and The Valley in general. The Town Plan calls for “small scale wind” towers, with “a delicate balance” sought in deciding placement. The board decided to create a new category on the spot they called “medium scale” towers (they defined as 100-foot towers), and proposed allowing them in all districts – in all locations, as a permitted use. They specifically named Fuller Hill, Roxbury Mountain, Prickly Mountain and other places as good sites for the towers.
They also decided to make a map identifying our best “wind resource” areas, specifically identifying the prime locations for more industrial scale towers (400-plus feet). They used Lincoln Ridge and Northfield Ridge as examples of excellent high wind locations, held up only by being National Forest (Lincoln Ridge) or running into pushback resistance from misdirected anti-wind groups from Waitsfield (Northfield Ridge).
During the entire discussion there was no dissention – no consideration of the intention of the Town Plan, the significance of the historic village character or rural landscape, the beauty of the Mad River Valley and the importance of that resource for both the quality of life of its citizens and second home owners, and for our visitor-based economy, or aesthetics of any sort, or effects on our wild and natural environment, watershed, wildlife or forests. Actually, they did say “beauty was in the eye of the beholder….” No one thought to question health issues, loss in land values, or the ever-growing instability on the grid, caused by intermittent wind power. (Note: On April 3 Vermont Electric Coop (partner of GMP at Lowell) called for a halt to further wind development in the N.E. until it could be studied further and problems can be worked out.)
Well, we thought there might be some folks in the town and The Valley who would be interested in these developments. These are smart, hardworking, community-oriented volunteers, but it would certainly be a good idea to start paying attention to the changes they are pushing. Maybe even attend some of the meetings and let your voice be heard. These are big changes. (Complete minutes of the meetings can be requested. The next meeting of the Warren Planning Board is Monday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the municipal building.)
Carolynn and Greg Schipa live in Warren.