NEWPORT — Six people accused of blocking a construction road leading to a wind power project on Lowell Mountain went on trial Wednesday on trespassing charges.
The jury started deliberating around 5 p.m. after the one day trial.
The group is accused of lining the path to prevent workers and trucks from reaching the area where Green Mountain Power Corp. contractors are building the wind-energy project in Lowell. They were arrested for trespassing on Dec. 5, 2011.
“The evidence will show that the defendants were aware that they didn’t have permission from Green Mountain Power Corporation to be on the land,” Sarah Baker, the deputy Orleans County state’s attorney, said in court.
The protesters object to the 21 wind turbines being built on the ridgeline because they believe the project is marring a pristine mountain for no environmental benefit.
Ryan Gillard, one of the protesters, told WCAX-TV that he’s unsure how the state can try them for trespass when a civil court has not settled a lawsuit over who owns the land.
“The state will be utterly unable to prove that Green Mountain Power have the lawful authority to exclude my clients from the piece of property on which they were arrested,” said Kristina Michelsen, the protesters’ lawyer, in court.
The state says the land that the protesters refused to leave is owned by Lowell resident Trip Wileman, who leased it to Green Mountain Power.
But the defense says the land belongs to Don Nelson, who is suing Wileman and GMP in a separate case over the location of the property line. Nelson said he is not stopping anyone from being on the land.
“My land is open,” Nelson said in court. “So people come and go and I don’t invite them or not invite them. It’s open land.”MORE IN Vermont NewsThe alleged ringleader of a central Vermont gang answered to a charge of aggravated repeated... Full Story
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