March 03. 2014 10:04PM

Sugar Hill eyes money to fight Northern Pass

Staff Report

SUGAR HILL — As town meetings approach, supporters and opponents of the Northern Pass will be watching for warrant articles related to the controversial hydroelectric project, especially in North Country towns most affected by the need for project sponsors to create new rights-of-way.

The 2014 Sugar Hill town warrant has been posted, and includes an article that calls for a vote on the creation of a town-funded trust that would be called The Northern Pass Defense Fund.

According to the warrant article, the $10,000 fund would be administered by the Select Board “for the purpose of financing legal expenses and other costs incurred by the town in advocating the town’s opposition to the Northern Pass project.”

The Select Board recommends approval of the article.

Another article asks voters to authorize the Select Board to accept donations, grants or gifts, in any amount, to be used for the fund.

Other states require developers to provide “municipal intervener” funds that essentially help cities and towns oppose the project the developer is proposing.

Connecticut requires developers to post $25,000, while New York calls for up to $200,000 during the scoping phase and up to $400,000 during the application process.

“In New Hampshire, towns and their residents are forced to foot the bill,” said Susan Schibanoff, a Northern Pass opponent who lives in nearby Easton.

Easton has been setting aside a defense fund for the past three years, at $2,500 per year, she said.