DERBY - Just as the controversy on wind turbines in Derby was simmering down, a new proposal for a turbine has re-ignited the debate, but at a smaller scale. The Derby Planning Commission heard from a group of residents and a wind developer Monday who brought up many of the same arguments the town heard before, even though the new proposal is for a smaller turbine.
A Derby resident wants to put a small turbine on her property but a nearby neighbor and others are not happy.
Edith Lindblom-Warthin built a home at the top of Herrick Road to enjoy tranquility and the breathtaking views of green fields, mountains, and the lake. Her home also serves as her livelihood where she runs a bed and breakfast. Now she feels her sense of peace and well-being is under threat.
Lindblom-Warthin’s neighbor just to the north, Mike Judd, has a 140-foot turbine approximately 900 feet from her home. The wind blows at the top of the hill, and as the wind blows faster, the turbine blades spin faster and faster as well. Sometimes she cannot hear it but other times it sounds like the propeller of an airplane, she said. At other times she hears a whooshing sound. She said her guests often ask first thing in the morning about the strange sounds at night.
“It’s the wind turbine,” she responds.
Now her other neighbor, Michele Judd (Mike Judd's daughter), whose house is just above the bed and breakfast on the hill to the east, has applied for a 140-foot turbine. It is not clear how close the turbine would be to Lindblom-Warthin's house, but it is estimated about 300 to 400 feet.
A contractor said that he was working on Linblom-Warthin’s house the other day and he heard, at times, what sounded like a small jet coming down from the sky. He said it was the Mike Judd turbine.
Several people at the meeting voiced concerns over the proposal, and what the future holds for the town. Linbolm-Warthin and others are concerned about cumulative noise. aesthetics, and that many more turbines could pop up due to Derby’s lack of regulations on wind turbines. The fact that George Buzzell’s property was devalued due to a nearby 140-foot wind turbine was raised.
Planning Commission Chair Joe Profera at first related the proposed turbine to the Town Plan section on telecommunication towers, which is regulated by the town even though ultimately it is a Public Service Board decision under Vermont Statutes, Chapter 30, Section 248.
“Many towns now realize the potential for adverse impacts caused by the placement of towers and related infrastructure and seek the cooperation of all parties in resolving these concerns. The Town of Derby is quite concerned about the aesthetic and environmental impacts of tower facilities,” states the Derby Town Plan under the telecommunications section.
However, at the meeting, Zoning Administrator Bob Kelley noted that under the energy section, renewable energy is mentioned. The Town Plan states: "Renewable energy resources offer long-term advantages over non-renewable sources. Solar, wind, hydro, and wood or wood gasification may become more prominent in the Town’s energy mix. The Town should support efforts to research and develop these other alternative, ecologically sound energy sources."
When some in the audience said that wind turbines would hurt their view, planner Dave La Belle questioned what a view is, and said people can’t control what others do with their property to preserve a scenic view.
The planning commission voted on a recommendation to the select board on the proposal. At first Profera indicated he wanted to recommend that the select board seek intervener status, but LaBelle cited the Town Plan and made a motion to recommend the select board not to intervene in the matter of the proposed turbine. Planner Brian Fisher said he agreed with LaBelle. Planner Jim Bumps also voted yes on the motion. Richard Delfavero voted no.
The developer, Dale Leroux of Wind Turbines Vermont in Barton, agreed that sometimes the small turbine make noise, but he said that the turbines help the grid. Leroux refused to say how much the turbine would cost when asked by Profera. He said the cost is irrelevant.