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Wind farm on Little Equinox - Pretty or pretty unsightly?

Where can the project be seen from? Will it be in the viewer's foreground or background? Will the viewer likely to be stationary or moving? Will the project offend the sensibilities of the average person? When viewed as a whole, is the project offensive or shocking, because it is out of character with its surroundings, or will it significantly diminish the scenic qualities of the area? These will be addressed by the Public Service Board.

There are goals that are at odds with each other. The Manchester Town and Village plans call for the preservation of the mountaintops and ridgelines in their natural state. At the same time, Vermont towns and utility companies are challenged to facilitate alterative energy sources.

If a wind farm is a blemish on the natural environment, the absence of a wind farm results in more coal burning plants that cause acid rain and help kill the trees and rivers. The Public Service Board will have to determine whether the visibility of the turbines cause undue harm to the view. The board will employ the Quechee Analysis to determine whether the visual or aesthetic impacts will be adverse. Is the project to be located in an urban, suburban or rural area? Is the project's design compatible with its surroundings? Are the colors to be used suitable for the context within which the project will be located?

Where can the project be seen from? Will it be in the viewer's foreground or background? Will the viewer likely to be stationary or moving? Will the project offend the sensibilities of the average person?

When viewed as a whole, is the project offensive or shocking, because it is out of character with its... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
There are goals that are at odds with each other. The Manchester Town and Village plans call for the preservation of the mountaintops and ridgelines in their natural state. At the same time, Vermont towns and utility companies are challenged to facilitate alterative energy sources.

If a wind farm is a blemish on the natural environment, the absence of a wind farm results in more coal burning plants that cause acid rain and help kill the trees and rivers. The Public Service Board will have to determine whether the visibility of the turbines cause undue harm to the view. The board will employ the Quechee Analysis to determine whether the visual or aesthetic impacts will be adverse. Is the project to be located in an urban, suburban or rural area? Is the project's design compatible with its surroundings? Are the colors to be used suitable for the context within which the project will be located?

Where can the project be seen from? Will it be in the viewer's foreground or background? Will the viewer likely to be stationary or moving? Will the project offend the sensibilities of the average person?

When viewed as a whole, is the project offensive or shocking, because it is out of character with its surroundings, or will it significantly diminish the scenic qualities of the area? These will be addressed by the Public Service Board.

The turbines on Little Equinox will be more than a mile from the nearest homes on Bentley Hill Road, and more than three miles from the heart of Manchester Village at the Equinox Hotel. They are more than four miles from the Northshire Bookstore.

Doug Walker from the Orton Family Foundation presented a view of the project reminiscent of a Hollywood movie. This computer generated show allowed the audience of more than 100 people who packed the Israel Congregation to see the project from any viewpoint in the area.

Walker could turn the clouds on or off, or show the turbines in darkness so the crowd could see the pulsing red lights mandated by the FAA.

The views from the center of Manchester Center show how little the turbines affect the visual landscape. He also showed the project from the Sandgate, or back, of the mountain. The view from the Wilcox farm, or Hildene are much more significant.

Landscape architect Jean Vissering, who has been hired by the Bennington County Regional Commission, presented a similar view of the wind farm. She said that most of the views from the major roadways - 11/30, Route 7 or Route 7A - were not severely impacted.

"While some or all of the turbines can be seen from various vantage points along these roads, the words prominence or dominance can be used to reflect the degree to which a project would stand out or draw one's eye as seen from sensitive viewpoints and throughout the region," she said.

Landworks of Middlebury, Vt., offered a handout to help the audience understand the impact. Wind turbines in Vermont need to be located where the wind is - on ridges and many of our ridgelines have already been developed. On Little Equinox Mountain, Skyline Drive was built in the 1940's by the mountain's owner, Dr. J.G. Davidson. The Skyline Inn was built shortly afterward. The land was later donated to the Carthusian Order, whose monks built their monastery on the property.

Two wind turbines were originally built on the mountain in 1981. These early turbines did not work well, and were removed. In the early 1990's three other turbines were erected, and provided a limited amount of electricity. They were eventually dismantled.

Seventy percent of Vermonters would like to see more wind turbines located in the state according to a survey. After installation, attitudes toward wind energy change noticeably among those most affected the residents near the site.

In Senator Bill Doyle's annual Town Meeting Day Survey question asking whether windmills should be built on Vermont's ridgelines, 73 percent said yes, 11 percent said no, and 13 percent were undecided. The question did not ask what the answer would be if the turbines were visible to the respondent.

55 decibels at 600 feet

Turbine noise was questioned. Endless Energy President Harley Lee said that the noise level would be 55 decibels at 600 feet from the base of the tower. This compares with a loud power mower at 107 db. A normal conversation is in the 50-60 db range, and a quiet street is about 50 db.

The audience appeared to be mixed either in support or opposition of the project. Whether or not people changed their opinion because of the various presentations is not known. The computerized visual showing the project from several locations was very helpful is helping the audience see the impact.

The meeting was the fourth in a series sponsored by the Town Planning Commission working with the Orton Family Foundation. The next meeting will take place at the Manchester Town Hall at the Selectboard meeting on Jan. 17 at 6:30 p.m. The final meeting will be on Saturday Feb. 11 at the Manchester Elementary and Middle School. The time of this final meeting is to be announced later.

Source: http://www.manchesterjourna...

JAN 13 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/981-wind-farm-on-little-equinox-pretty-or-pretty-unsightly
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