An open letter to the Readsboro Selectboard:
I read about your negative decision concerning the Route 100 Scenic Byway in a variety of emails from my fellow committee members as well as in The Deerfield Valley News. Let me first say that I am a supporter of the wind turbine project along the Searsburg/Heartwellville ridge. I believe in clean energy and I feel the windmills are as noble and scenic as the windmills of Holland that ground grain for the populace to have bread for the last 500 years. In fact, what is scenic and beautiful to the eye is largely a subjective topic dependent on each person’s personal perspective. I also have found that the first people to oppose such projects are also the first to push the elevator button – preferring to use up electricity rather than climb the stairs.
I also know that the proposed wind turbine project will most likely be visible along some points of the Molly Stark Trail Scenic Byway and that if byway designation could be used to thwart your project then you already have a problem. I don’t feel that this Route 100 byway designation or any other scenic byway designation will be detrimental to your project in any way.
If you look in “The Vermont Byways Program” manual, page six, paragraph five, you will see that the program must be sensitive to the economic needs of a community. And on page nine, under “Guiding Principles,” it specifically states in the third paragraph: “The program provides protection for owners of private property in that (1) existing land use regulations need not be modified, (2) the Program does not have powers of zoning or condemnation, (3) residents in or along a corridor are not required to participate, (4) the Program is intended to promote economic growth and development in a balanced manner, and (5) the Program and/or data collected as part of the Program are not intended to be used in an Act 250 hearing, nor would it preclude any land development otherwise permitted by existing zoning.”
Having been a part of several Act 250 hearings for private businesses that I either managed or participated in, as well as for historic site use on a state level, I can assure you that if you are going to end up in court over the wind turbine project, the Act 250 process has more than enough hurdles to either help or hinder the project dependent upon your sensitivity to everything from water-run off to animal habitat. But all such opposition has to be within a reasonable format and rarely will a court overturn an Act 250 decision. In addition, those conducting Act 250 hearings are bound by law to listen to every complaint or suggestion given, but the law does not compel them in any way to take any such opinions and act on them.
If you are going to end up in court it will be as a part of that Act 250 process, not as a part of the scenic byway process. In addition, by not wanting to be a part of the scenic byway because that designation might be used against the windmill project, isn’t that an admission that in your mind’s eye the windmills aren’t scenic? Seems to me a clever lawyer could use your nonparticipation against you just as easily (and perhaps more so) than your participation.
Readsboro needs to use every means at its disposal for economic benefit right now. This byway is a two-year ramp-up project with definite and well-defined potential benefits with representatives from the community participating every step of the way. If for some reason (that at present is totally undetermined) the byway is used as one more weapon against the windmill project, then so be it. Fight that battle when you have to, and if your town’s representatives and public meetings concerning the byway emphasize the continuance of the windmill project, then I am sure that both the byway and the windmills will help contribute to Readsboro’s prosperity.
I hope you will reconsider this matter in the near future.
Readers who would like to submit their opinion writing for consideration as a“Your Turn” guest editorial should contact Mike Eldred at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (802) 464-3388, ext. 16, for more information.