IRASBURG — At a special Select Board meeting held on Thursday evening at the Irasburg Town Hall, 283 registered voters cast their ballots on the question “Shall Kidder Hill, or any other ridgelines of the town of Irasburg, Vermont, be used for development by industrial wind turbine projects?”
A total of 274, or 97 percent, voted no. Nine voted yes.
David Blittersdorf, founder and CEO of All Earth Renewables, has announced his intention to build two 500-foot industrial wind turbines on Kidder Hill, just west of Irasburg’s village center.
Blittersdorf declined the Select Board’s invitation to speak at the meeting.
Irasburg’s Town Hall has a legal capacity of 220 people. So many more voters packed the space that Select Board Chair Robin Kay asked voters who already knew how they would vote to cast their ballots and leave so that others could enter.
Thursday night’s vote will not be binding on the Vermont Public Service Board’s decision whether to allow the project to proceed. However, Irasburg voters expressed their determination to have a voice in a decision that will have major impacts on the town and its future.
Irasburg resident Paul Drayman worked as a volunteer in the town-wide petition drive that preceded the October 1 meeting. He emphasized the need for local action.
“If we do not stop this development, in twenty years you will not recognize this area,” Drayman said. “The developers have a vision of the future, and they want to cram that vision down our throats, whether we like it or not. I can’t sit by and let that happen. We need to work on renewable energy, but we must be able to do this ourselves, as individuals and as a community.”
Also at the meeting, Dr. Ron Holland, Irasburg Ridgeline Alliance member and a leader of the effort to preserve the town’s ridgelines, delivered petitions to the Irasburg Select Board. The petitions, signed by 421 of Irasburg’s 665 voters, ask the Select Board to oppose industrial wind development on Kidder Hill “by all possible means” and to develop a town plan to preserve all of Irasburg’s ridgelines from industrial wind turbine development.
In presenting the petitions, Holland listed a number of turbine–related issues that the community has considered and discussed in recent weeks, including health effects, lowered property values, the flawed state process for siting energy projects, the values of Vermonters, and “the voices of Vermonters not being heard.”