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Friday, October 15, 2021

Concerns grow over surveillance towers in Orleans County, public comment period extended

DERBY LINE — The Department of Homeland Security has agreed to reopen the public comment period related to the proposed construction of massive surveillance towers in Derby Line and North Troy.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced in February that they were planning to construct two new video surveillance towers 120 feet high along the U.S.-Canadian border.

The proposed tower locations sit in Letourneau Field, and in North Troy, just west of an abandoned duty-free shop.

At a press conference in Derby Line earlier this month, federal and local officials, along with Attorney General TJ Donovan, expressed their opposition to the proposal.

Derby Line Village trustee Keith Beadle stated that the village has a history of Border Patrol saying one thing and doing another.

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Beadle was disappointed that he had not even heard of the proposed towers before reading it in the news and said that in the past, all new projects proposed were sold under the guise of safety.

“You can be safe for only so long, and then you have to be free,” Beadle said.

Attorney General TJ Donovan said with the proposed surveillance cameras able to record miles into Vermont, the project raises serious privacy concerns.

He stated that he would also like to know what would happen with the data collected by the surveillance towers, and who will be able to access it, and for how long.

Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders, and Representative Welch say they have heard from many Vermonters who are concerned that surveillance cameras will further intrude on their privacy in border communities that have already been dramatically changed by increased border surveillance and enforcement.

They say they have also heard concerns about how these towers will adversely affect the natural landscape of the border communities.

“These potential impacts need to be fully vetted before any such plans move forward, and this 60-day extension will afford Vermonters their right to be heard on this critical matter,” a joint statement by Vermont’s congressional delegation reads.

The public comment period will re-open on April 18 and close on June 17.

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