Deerfield officials look for more specifics about Northern Pass projectBy MELISSA PROULX
Union Leader Correspondent
November 07. 2016 11:32PM
DEERFIELD — Questions raised about specific plans concerning the Northern Pass project in town could soon be answered.
The Board of Selectmen will pass on questions put together by the town’s Conservation Commission and Planning Board to the attorney representing the town, so he can discuss the questions with developers.
The group wants to compare how aspects of the project stand up next to what the town has planned for the future. The questions, meant to maintain objectivity, have been phrased in a way that requires in-depth answers on specific topics.
“It’s really an attempt to get information,” said Kate Hartnett, vice chair of the Planning Board.
Resident Jeanne Menard gave the Board additional items to be questioned, like estimated revenue for the town, saying her objective is to make sure that the expectations being set are met.
“Whatever the benefits this project is claiming for Deerfield, Deerfield needs to be scrutinizing it,” she said. “… This is our chance to finalize any concerns that folks might have for the project in Deerfield.”
The project has been a controversial topic for the last few years. Many have voiced opposition to the project for reasons like possibly ruining the rural aesthetic of the town.
Northern Pass is a 192-mile transmission line project that could bring 1,090 megawatts of hydropower from Canada to New Hampshire, according to the project’s website.
The proposed line — which would be above and below ground — would go through the middle of the Granite State, through more than 30 towns and cities, including Deerfield.
The line will end at a substation in town.
During the May 2 Selectmen meeting, the Board discussed hiring an attorney for a case against the Northern Pass project. Officials gave Board of Selectmen Chairman Stephen Barry permission to sign a contract with Steven Whitely from Mitchell Municipal Group PA in Laconia to have him represent the town if the residents were able to raise the $3,000 to hire him.
Barry said because residents had voted down a warrant article in 2015 to start a fund to hire an attorney, money from the operating budget cannot be used.
However, per state law, residents can raise the money through donations to fund the position.
Within two weeks, more than double that amount had been raised. A public hearing regarding the acceptance of those donations will be held on Nov. 21.
The money for the legal fees associated with the questions prepared by the two town boards will be billed separately. Those groups will either cover the cost through a similar process or from money from their budget.