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Whitefield Select board accepts petition seeking full Northern Pass burial

Agrees to research town being intervener in SEC process

September 23, 2015
WHITEFIELD — Planning Board member Frank Lombardi, a middle school teacher in the Littleton School district, and his folk-singer wife, Katie Rose Siggins, attended the select board meeting on Monday evening, Sept. 14, according to the minutes, in the new town offices with all three on hand: chairman Wendy Hersom, Mark Lufkin, and Duane Hall.

The couple presented a copy of a cover letter and petition that call for the proposed 1,000-megawatt High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Northern Pass Transmission line to be buried underground the entire 10.4 miles it would run through town in existing rights-of-way, if built, that was signed by four members of the town's Planning Board and addressed to the state Site Evaluation Committee (SEC).

The Legislature created the SEC to review, approve, monitor and enforce compliance in the planning, siting, construction and operation of energy facilities.

Lombardi and Siggins had presented the original letter and petition at the Coös County forum on the proposed NPT project held on Wednesday night, Sept. 9, by Northern Pass at the Mountain View Grand.

The letter and petition point out that if the NPT line were built as now proposed, Whitefield would have a long overhead (OH) route that would cross both the town's views and village, including towers of up to 100 feet in height that would be well above the tree canopy as well as the typical 43-foot-tall wooden poles now in the existing Right of Way. The overhead wires would cross three main roadways: Route 116 twice and Route 3 once to reach the substation, plus Route 142 in Dalton, near the Whitefield-Dalton town line.

"The visual impact would be severe, as one will not be able to enter Whitefield without seeing the lines," they pointed out. "As such, the project would adversely affect large swathes of the town's visual landscape, the central historic and business district and significant natural and preserved areas."

In addition the petition and letter point out that the project does not conform to the town's Master Plan and would "negatively affect the orderly development of Whitefield and the region, private property values, business prospects and economic development."

The petition also states: "This is our town and our futures. We will not stand by and watch as Whitefield is destroyed by monstrous above-ground lines."

Lombardi and Siggins also noted that NPT now proposes to bury 52 miles of cable in Grafton County towns south of Whitefield, also located in the White Mountains, including much of Bethlehem, as well as Franconia and Easton.

"We want Whitefield to receive equal treatment to these other towns," the couple said.

Signatures were collected from 535 people, nearly all of who are Whitefield voters and residents with only a smattering from Dalton, Jefferson, and Littleton.

There are currently a total of 1,410 voters on Whitefield's checklist.

Lombardi and Siggins concluded their presentation by asking the selectmen if they would seriously consider becoming an intervener in the SEC process since both towns and abutters can become interveners.

They not only suggested that being an intervener might be something for them to look into but also working cooperatively with other Coös towns further north.

"Coös County is basically getting the shaft," said Lombardi, adding that they'd talked to a lot of different people and had come to realize that reaching out to the other towns would be a good move.

The Board agreed to look into being an intervener so they would to understand what it would entail and involve — and what the cost would be, if any — and also stated that "they are not opposed to working with the other towns.'

Selectmen's assistant Judy Ramsdell said that she had looked quickly into the matter and had learned by Thursday that the process is complex enough to require the advice of town counsel Bernie Waugh of Gardner, Fulton & Waugh, PLLC, in Lebanon. Apparently he is already representing some other towns in this capacity and will let the select board know what it would be involved for Whitefield to go down this path.

A sampling of Whitefield voters and residents who signed the petition include: Ken Russell Jr., Margaret O'Donnell, Stanley Holz, Robert Stiles, Lois Stiles, Sue Gradual, Ray Gradual, Jessica Ryan, Robin LaLonde, Mary Jane Chase, Aggy Chase, Richard Mallion, Ashley Nevers, Joyce Nevers, Mary Rodriques, Stephen Rodriques, Robert Cargill, Daphne Cargill, Donald Spalding, James Burt, Marilyn Burt, Greg Bell, Edie Bell, Peter Dimmitt, and Alan McIntyre, Edie Worcester, Marlene Case, Judi Winsor, Amber Libby, Charlie Baylies, Kathleen Kopp, Caroline Belisle, Frank Mai, Linda Mai, John Severance, Roxie Severance, Edward Stevens, Gerry Pons, Martha Hardiman, Terry Lufkin, Bradley Lufkin, and Adam DuPont.

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