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Hearings on windmill project to resume next week

FLORIDA — Hearings on the proposed Hoosac Wind power project that began in August will be continued next week in Boston.

The project, which was proposed in 2001, would involve building 20 wind turbines on Bakke Mountain and on Crum Hill in Monroe.

The hearings are on an appeal made by environmental group Green Berkshires and a local citizens' group over a wetlands permit granted by the state Department of Environmental Protection to enXco, the California-based company that is developing the project.

The groups are alleging that a proposed 4-mile-long, 35-foot-wide access road to the top of the ridge on Bakke Mountain would harm vegetation and wildlife at 12 different points where the road would cross intermittent streams.

At 10 of those points, enXco has proposed installing "open bottom culverts," which the company said would mitigate environmental damage.

Eleanor Tillinghast, president of Green Berkshires, said any ruling on the project would have far-reaching effects beyond the power project.

"If the DEP's ruling on open-bottom culverts stands, the implications of this will be that any developer can come along and subvert the intent of the wetlands protection act," she said. "If these developers can come and put in open-bottom culverts, then you can believe that any developer can come along and circumvent the wetlands... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
The project, which was proposed in 2001, would involve building 20 wind turbines on Bakke Mountain and on Crum Hill in Monroe.

The hearings are on an appeal made by environmental group Green Berkshires and a local citizens' group over a wetlands permit granted by the state Department of Environmental Protection to enXco, the California-based company that is developing the project.

The groups are alleging that a proposed 4-mile-long, 35-foot-wide access road to the top of the ridge on Bakke Mountain would harm vegetation and wildlife at 12 different points where the road would cross intermittent streams.

At 10 of those points, enXco has proposed installing "open bottom culverts," which the company said would mitigate environmental damage.

Eleanor Tillinghast, president of Green Berkshires, said any ruling on the project would have far-reaching effects beyond the power project.

"If the DEP's ruling on open-bottom culverts stands, the implications of this will be that any developer can come along and subvert the intent of the wetlands protection act," she said. "If these developers can come and put in open-bottom culverts, then you can believe that any developer can come along and circumvent the wetlands protection act.

We think that there are significant issues here that will affect projects throughout the commonwealth."

Hoosac Wind spokesman Samuel Bittman said he was certain that Administrative Magistrate Natalie Monroe would rule in the company's favor.

"We don't even count this as an additional delay, it's all just a matter of a couple of weeks now," he said. "I would expect that when the magistrate upholds the DEP permit, the project would start as soon as possible. And I feel that the next story will be when the magistrate hands down the ruling."

Tillinghast, of Great Barrington, said she was not sure on how Monroe would rule.

"I would never speculate on how the judge would rule on what has been presented but I do believe a ruling will be made sometime in the spring."

The next testimony will be from DEP officials on the decision-making process for the permit and will be heard Thursday, Feb. 9, with a possible continuation scheduled for Monday, Feb. 13.

Source: http://www.thetranscript.co...

FEB 1 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/1142-hearings-on-windmill-project-to-resume-next-week
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