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Barre officials, turbine supporters have been unfairly maligned by some in community

Posted 11 June 2019 at 11:13 pm

Editor:

I am writing this in response to all unwarranted criticism of our public officials in the Town of Barre. I attended the workshop meeting that Kerri Richardson wrote about in her recent letter to the editor and it was a full house.

Yes, it is true that questions were not allowed during the workshop, but attendees were informed that questions could be written on provided 3 x 5 cards, and they would be answered at the next meeting. As for the timing of the meeting, per law they can hold them whenever they choose, as long as proper notice is given, which it was. Some of the residents who accuse the Town Board of being out of compliance, don’t even have their own houses in order.

However, this letter is not about the meeting, it’s about the people. I believe one of the best attributes in the town of Barre is the people. My neighbors are some of my best friends. I cannot count the number of times they are there to lend a helping hand. Whether it’s helping me fix my lawn mower, checking in on my parents, stopping to help me catch the horses that escaped, or inviting my family over for dinner. The list could go on and on but one thing is for sure, it’s these people who make the community what it is, not the rural landscape (which by the way is also provided by them).

That’s what is so disheartening about the controversy over the wind turbine project. Farmers, leaseholders, elected officials, good neighbors have been personally attacked for pursuing a project that has been allowed in Barre since 2008, in accordance with the Town’s Comprehensive Plan. These people have been called corrupt, ignorant, evil etc. for considering Green Power.

At the workshop meeting there was a flier saying the town officials must go because they are corrupt. These elected officials did not pursue the wind project nor alter the zoning to accommodate it. They are simply doing their duties as elected officials to research and consider what’s best for the entire community. If they did not review the wind project proposal they would not be doing their jobs.

I also heard it shouldn’t be about the money. I am not sure how anyone can say this. The farmers are the ones who provide the rural environment and yet pay the most property taxes.  When someone approaches them with the opportunity to make additional income regardless of Mother Nature, how can they not consider it? Residents in Barre often criticize the taxes.  How can you form a decision before you know what the financial impact is to each and every one of you?

I also heard that it’s not their right to put up wind turbines and change the scenery. Well I find that argument to be a slippery slope. Once we start dictating what they can and can’t do with their land, we are no longer a right to farm community. I know several of the opposition are gun owners and the minute the topic of assault weapons regulation comes up, they claim it’s their second amendment right. How is this different?

One topic that does bother me is the health concerns. I truly do not want to see anyone have ill effects because of a wind project. I understand the World Health Organization has valid concerns but I also realize that something has to be done to reduce our carbon footprint.  According to scientists, if our CO2 levels continue to rise, we will have major problems that will affect the whole world. Will there be better options for Green Power in the future? Probably, but I have no doubt they will have opposition as well. No proposed solution will satisfy everyone, but if we continue to resist any changes and advancements how will we leave the world better than we found it? What kind of world will we be leaving our future generations?

There are several candidates running for office this year in Barre. My hope is that whoever is elected will look out for what’s best for the whole community like our current members do, rather than being motivated by self interest. The challenge for the opposition would be to provide a solution that helps the farmers and the community and not just tell us the problems with the current proposal.

Regardless of the outcome, the damage has been done to our best asset, the people. Everyone deserves respect no matter what side of the debate they are on. It’s my belief that the negative culture that is being perpetuated will have a greater detrimental effect on property values than any proposed Green Power Project.

Why would people choose to live in a community where neighbors don’t support one another? Also, for the record, I support the farmers, many of whom supported my father when he was a veterinarian, regardless of what they want to do with their land. My father also has an opportunity for a wind turbine. As he would tell you, it’s not going to impact his lifestyle but it may help one of his grandchildren keep the family homestead. Either way, he still treats all people fairly and with respect!

Sincerely,

Stephen Harling

Barre