Barre survey results have nearly 70% ‘totally opposed’ to turbines

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 August 2020 at 1:38 pm

Supporters of project expect turbine revenue will reduce town taxes significantly

BARRE — A survey of Barre households paid for by George McKenna, a local veterinarian, shows nearly 70 percent of the respondents are “totally opposed” to turbines in the town.

McKenna sent surveys last month to 735 households in Barre. He received 258 responses. (Five were returned by Postal Service because no one lives at house.)

That is a 35 percent response rate for the 735 surveys. McKenna has been vocal in his opposition to the turbine project proposed by Apex Clean Energy. The company wants to build 33 turbines in Barre that would top 650 feet.

McKenna had a group of local residents, including a lease holder for a turbine, open the surveys and compile the results.

“I was expecting 40 to 50 percent to be opposed,” McKenna said. “But they are overwhelmingly opposed at 70 percent.”

In the survey, residents are asked to consider 11 scenarios and to check only one box that they most strongly agree with.

The first option — “We don’t want the wind turbines” — was the most popular answer, by far. It was checked by 176 of the 258 surveys or 68 percent.

Other responses asked if residents would support turbines, with responses varying on whether the turbines are not more than 500 feet high or not more than 700 feet tall.

Other responses varied whether the setbacks were from property lines at a distance in compliance with World Health Organization recommendations or another response was a distance of 1,500 feet from property lines.

The survey also offered responses for residents to state their support for turbines whether the revenue from the project would wipe out town taxes fully, at 50 percent or at 25 percent.

McKenna acknowledged in a letter accompanying the survey that the turbines could lower the town’s property taxes.

“Who doesn’t like lower taxes?” he wrote in the letter. “If your family views this as an opportunity that can sustain you for the foreseeable future, I respect that decision, and no one can fault you for making it as long as the neighbors are protected from any loss, being health and property value.”

Among the surveys that showed support for turbines, 35 of the 78 (45 percent) said they would support the project only in town taxes were completely offset by the wind energy project.

Those surveys in support also showed that 58 percent or 45 of the 78 want the town to require setbacks at the WHO length, which is more than 1,500 feet from property lines.

One response on the survey allowed people to check, “We want them no matter the consequences.” That was checked by 22 people or 9 percent of the responses, which represents 28 percent of the people who said they would support the project.

Another 4 respondents said they were “undecided” about the project.

McKenna is on the Town Board’s agenda for the meeting this Wednesday at 7 p.m. where he will present the survey results to town officials.

“I want the Town Board to know how people really feel about this,” McKenna said. “The Town Board assumes most people are for it.”

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