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Grafton Tussles Over Hiring Lawyer For Wind Development

Courtesy of Iberdola Renewables
Iberdrola Renewables wants to build Vermont's largest wind development in Grafton and Windham. This partial map from wetland and storm water studies of the area shows where the proposed turbines would be located.

A commercial wind project has divided the town of Grafton. And at a select board meeting Monday, the two sides couldn't even agree if an attorney should be hired to negotiate on the town's behalf.

Iberdrola Renewables wants to build 28 wind turbines in Grafton and Windham in what would be the largest commercial wind project in the state.

Some people in Grafton think the town should bring a lawyer on to begin working on the town's behalf, and to eventually sit down at the table with Iberdrola.

"Hiring a lawyer is something we should do and we should do it soon," says select board member Al Sands. "We need a lawyer so that when the voters vote in November, if we do vote in November, the voters know what the package is or what the agreement is about."

But Grafton resident Sam Battaglino says it doesn't make sense to get a lawyer involved until the town gets more information from the developer.

"There's not one written word on a piece of paper knowing exactly what's going on," Battaglino said. "We have almost three years to negotiate. There's no sense in negotiating now when there's absolutely nothing to negotiate over."

The issue was on the select board's agenda, but after about 20 minutes of debate the board voted to put off a decision until a meeting in May.

Iberdrola has offered to put money into an escrow account to help the town cover attorney fees, but there was also debate at the meeting whether the town should accept money from the company.

The company has offered about $285,000 in property taxes annually for the eight turbines that would be in Grafton.

Windham would receive $715,000 for 20 turbines.

Iberdrola said both figure are starting points for negotiating a deal.

Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state. 
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