Antrim Select Board to meet about voided payment
Town official says rewriting agreement with wind developer may be the best option
ANTRIM — The town’s Select Board will meet this week to discuss the direction town officials would like to head in after a PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes, agreement between the town and Antrim Wind Energy was voided last week by a Superior Court ruling.
A time and date for the Select Board’s meeting had not been set by press time Friday.
On May 20, Hillsborough Superior Court North Judge David Garfunkel ruled that the PILOT agreement between the town and Antrim Wind should be voided because it was drafted between the parties in a series of illegal nonpublic meetings.
Select Board Chair Gordon Webber said in a phone interview Thursday, speaking only for himself and not for the entire board, that there are two likely paths to getting the PILOT agreement back in play. The board will meet to determine which is the best course of action.
One option, Webber said, is for the town to hold public hearings, preferably two, in which the existing terms of the PILOT agreement would be heard and discussed by residents of Antrim. It is unclear if these public hearings would validate the terms of the previous agreement.
Webber said the board would have to check with the court to see if the same information from the previous PILOT can simply be recycled and adopted a second time under legal terms.
The second option, Webber said, would be to rewrite the agreement completely in a series of hearings. “Why not just rewrite the PILOT and make it legal?” Webber said. “It’s the cleanest way to do it, and it would be less expensive and time-consuming.”
The previous PILOT agreement called for Antrim Wind to pay $337,500 in the first year of operation of a proposed 10-turbine wind farm that would have been constructed in Antrim on the Tuttle Hill and Willard Mountain ridgeline. That amount would increase 2.5 percent annually, for a final payment in the 20th year of $536,385. Antrim Wind would have paid $8.7 million in taxes to the town altogether.
Webber said he doesn’t see the board appealing the court’s decision to void the PILOT agreement. It would be too expensive and ultimately the time would be better spent rewriting the agreement, he said.
In February, the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee denied the proposed wind farm, citing negative impacts the turbines would have aesthetically on the town.
An appeal that was authored by Antrim Wind’s attorney Susan Geiger was submitted to the SEC and signed by the town’s Select Board. Antrim Wind is expected to submit its own appeal of the decision before the 30-day deadline for appeals expires.