Non-residents, who shoulder 60% of the taxes in Grafton, VT, are asking to have their voices counted in the local outcry against Spanish and Arab-owned Iberdrola’s ongoing campaign to ram 28 turbines into Stiles Brook Forest.
The irony, of course, is that so-called non-residents have no voting power, while corrupt foreign multinationals such as Iberdrola, together with out-of-state landowners such as the New-Hampshire-based Meadowsend Timberlands, are routinely given carte blanche to install unnecessary (and highly destructive) industrial wind projects on Vermont land and then sell the power to other states.
From the article at Vermont Digger:
Second-home owners in town want a bigger say in whether Vermont’s largest wind turbine project moves forward…. Some argue that all taxpayers — whether residents or nonresidents — should be able to participate in some sort of referendum on the project. The results, according to a written request submitted to the Grafton Selectboard, should serve as “the formal and only position of the town of Grafton on the matter.”
“The way things stand now, we have no voice in whether this project happens or not, and we feel that’s an injustice,” said Jud Hartmann, a property owner and nonresident who presented the concept to the Selectboard this week. “So this is the beginning of a process to have our voice included in the debate.”
Detractors worry about potentially detrimental effects on the ridge, property values and residents’ health.
Iberdrola administrators have said they want support in both towns before proceeding. In a mailing late last year, they wrote that “after a vote on a completed project proposal by the registered voters in Windham and Grafton, Iberdrola Renewables will respect the outcome of that vote.”
But some say it’s not enough to consider only the opinions of registered voters. Hartmann, who lists a Main Street address, told the Grafton Selectboard on Monday that “the phrase ‘taxation without representation’ comes to mind” if nonresident property owners are left out.
He presented a petition carrying the names of 35 property owners along with a letter asserting that “all members of the Grafton community should be polled to determine the town’s position.”
The letter pitches a referendum that would include all registered voters as well as all property tax payers. If a property is jointly held, the document suggests, all property holders would be entitled to vote.
That touched off a debate at the meeting. Some, including Selectboard Chairman Sam Battaglino, were supportive of the idea.
“I think the second-home owners should have a say. I think their position should be known,” Battaglino said. “I mean, some of these people have been here for generations. I think it’s factually correct that they do pay about 60 percent of Grafton’s taxes.”
“This is the biggest (wind) project in Vermont at this time, and it’s certainly the biggest project in Grafton’s history,” he added. “We might never have a project as big as this.”
Selectboard member Ron Pilette said nonresident taxpayers “should have a voice. The question is how to do it (in a way) that’s legal and acceptable to the extent that it can be acceptable to all of us.”…
The nonresidents’ letter to the Selectboard claimed that “there are clear precedents in Vermont for organizing such a referendum,” citing wind turbine referendums that included nonresident taxpayers in towns including Brighton, Londonderry and Newark….
Liisa Kissel, a turbine opponent who is a director of the nonprofit Grafton Woodlands Group, said the nonresidents’ letter should not be viewed as a formal petition.
“I think you have to look at this as a request from this group of people who are otherwise voiceless in the town,” Kissel said. “They are asking for the town to find a way.”
Read the entire article here.