Concord – The SEC afternoon hearing proceeded as scheduled during a snowy Tuesday evening, lasting from approximately 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. The witness panels included the Deerfield Abutter Group, who have been heavily involved in the hearings as an intervention group, followed by Municipal Group 3-South. Questioning on Tuesday spread across a range of topics, from potential damage to property and wetlands, to impact of attendance of the Deerfield fair, to protection of the Blanding’s Turtle.
Beginning the applicant’s cross examination of the Deerfield Panel Abutter group, attorney Walker asked about a statement made that the best management practices initially offered did not do enough to protect the Blanding’s Turtle population. Attorney Walker then asked if they had seen the new best management practices that had been instituted for the project, witness Ms. Menard states that she knows of them but there may be some practices that she is not aware of. Attorney Walker then presented the November 2nd Avoidance, Mitigation and Minimization (AMM) guidelines for the Blanding’s Turtles. He then asks if the witnesses are aware that there have been many conversations between the applicant and the Department of Environmental Services and Fish and Game regarding the AMMs. However the witness states that as a resident of the land it is their responsibility to protect the turtle.
During the SEC subcommittee’s questions to the witness panel, subcommittee member Way asked about the impact on tourism of the NPT. Witness Bradbury maintains that the project will have a profound impact on tourism. Way however states that the select board has an opinion that the project will be negligible to tourism, specifically to the Deerfield fair, Bradbury states that she disagrees with the selectboard. Way then asks what her basis is for saying that people won’t come to the fair, Bradbury states that she “just knows” from talking to people, and that there has been no effort to see what people coming from out of town might think about the project.
Attorney Pappas, Counsel for the Public questioned Municipal Group 3-South whether anyone from the NPT met with the select board to discuss the impact orderly development of Deerfield, the witness stated that they know legal representation spoke with the project, but the Board of Selectmen were not approached specifically.
During the Applicant’s cross examination of the Municipal Group 3-South witnesses however, Attorney Dumville representing the applicant shows an exhibit showing outreach by a Mr. Varney, an expert for the applicant to Deerfield officials in 2014. The witness Ms. Hartnett, was surprised to learn that Mr. Varney had reached out. Though there were 9 meetings with town officials, and numerous outreach efforts made, including a letter to the board of selectmen requesting a meeting to discuss an MOU.
Witness Robertson states that they didn’t want to associate with the project because of public distrust of the Applicant/project. Attorney Dumville asks Mr. Robertson if he knew that the boilerplate MOU that would have been offered to Deerfield, had the selectmen agreed to meet with the applicant, would have included repairs to roads. A stipulation which the witnesses had earlier indicated that they were upset about not having occurred. Had the town Selectmen agreed to meet with the Applicant to discuss the memorandum of understanding, there would have been a signed agreement to fix any roads damaged during project construction.