NEW BRITAIN – The Connecticut Siting Council voted Jan. 6 to hold two public hearings in Prospect to give citizens a chance to voice their opinions on two commercial wind turbines BNE Energy hopes to build in the town.
Siting Council Chairman Daniel Caruso said although the council has no legal obligation to hold public hearings, he thought it would be appropriate given the controversial nature of the issue.
The council voted to conduct a field review of the 178 New Haven Road location at 2 p.m. Feb. 24, with public comments to follow at 6:30 p.m. and to hold evidentiary hearings the following day, with pubic comment again at 6:30 p.m. in Prospect.
Prospect Mayor Bob Chatfield said he suggested those dates because there would be no school that week.
Caruso indicated that the council would take such a long time to inspect the location to ensure the members were fully informed on the project.
“I would envision that we would take the time to inspect the location, as well as some of the surrounding areas,” said Caruso.
He also suggested council members visit wind turbine sites in other states.
“We’re excited about moving forward on the first commercial wind project in Connecticut. We have worked on this project for several years, performing numerous studies, and we look forward to presenting that information to the Siting Council and the public,” said Gregory Zupkus, CEO of BNE.
The council also voted to grant party status to the town of Prospect, represented by Chatfield, and to Save Prospect Corp., the group of residents opposing the turbines. BNE opposed the council granting Save Prospect party status, which gives those representatives the right to testify at the hearings.
“I’m supporting the neighborhood,” Chatfield said.
Caruso warned that the council must deal with time restrictions as they must complete everything by May 16.
Tim Reilly, President of Save Prospect Corp., said he was happy to hear the chairman say he planned to inspect the surrounding area, which Reilly took to indicate that the council would examine the turbine’s impact on the adjacent residential neighborhood.
Reilly said he would ask the council to request BNE to erect test balloons at the proposed location of the turbines to they could see how high the turbines would be and their visibility to surrounding residences.
Reilly was glad to be granted party status and said he would begin preparing documents for testimony. Save Prospect opposes the turbines on grounds of safety, noise, and quality of life.
Zupkus said he was also preparing his presentation for the Siting Council.
“As part of the hearings we will not only present information to the Siting Council about our project, but also take members on a tour of the site. We are extremely proud of the work that has been done and are looking forward to this opportunity.”