Zoning/Planning and Massachusetts
Far from offering residents any real protection, this latest proposal will have the likely outcome of inviting smaller turbines, in larger numbers, that can still be legally sited in very close proximity to residents. Current zoning bylaws in Fairhaven permit citing turbines in every type of zone as a so-called municipal project.
The facts are, that in no other place are turbines like these as close to as many homes. They do make noise and obviously they do have an impact on property values. If the wind is blowing in your direction you will hear a constant jet plane sound ...Whenyou see those 400-foot towers with their spinning blades above your roof you can think about the loss of home equity town officials have cost you.
The concerned citizen expects his or her protection to be the guiding principal employed when examining ALL projects, no matter their location. A power plant has it's own unique package of ills. It's comedic classification as a waste water treatment plant has served to bypass those ills, by-pass planning, zoning and health board review, and by-pass the special permit process design to give the common, concerned citizen their say!
Do we really want less public input on how many, and where large wind turbines will be built in our town?
The Select Board states that these amendments just make the process for wind turbines the same as for other municipal projects. Wind turbines, however, are not like any other projects.
Like it or not, the future of Newburyport rests soundly on the aesthetic value of its historic architecture, ecological resources, wildlife and beautiful views.
The question for every citizen after knowing what impacts these towers will produce will be, "What benefit is it to the city to have these towers present and how will it affect my home?"
The Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) has pushed for wind-power siting criteria to ensure that all projects meet high standards for environmental review, production efficiency, and long-term economic sustainability. The proposed Act calls for the creation of standards, but only requires that they be met to the "maximum practicable extent." To grant ad-hoc exemption from standards compromises the objective of siting facilities in appropriate locations.
Now that the Cape Cod Commission is appealing the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board's approval of the proposed wind farm on Nantucket Sound to the state's highest court, it's important to consider the stakes involved.
This is not about the merits or demerits of the project. The appeal is about the ability of a state board, made up of nine gubernatorial appointees, to overrule a regional authority simply because the project developer submitted an application to the Cape Cod Commission.
The call for the Special Town Meeting was prompted by what many in town view as an opportunity to improve the existing wind turbine bylaw based on the lessons learned from the review of the Cohasset Heights Wind Turbine project. Everyone can agree that we know a lot more about wind power today than when the bylaw was originally crafted.
Residents raised those exact concerns months ago before the turbine was built, but their worries were dismissed by a stack of reports and experts who said those problems, if they existed at all, would be so insignificant, that no one would notice.
And what's troubling about all the experts and turbine proponents being so far off the mark on these issues is the fact that most were equally dismissive about concerns the neighbors have raised about safety.
The protracted Cape Wind saga is attributable to its advance-absent rules that Congress directed Minerals Management Service to promulgate by 2006. Emotion has instead driven the Cape Wind review and debate. The world's largest, United States-precedent, developer-sited, offshore wind project is undergoing an ad hoc review due to MMS' failure to comply with a congressional mandate.
But here in Gloucester, it seems that government is "by the developer, for the developer." The City Council has cast a unanimous vote to grant a special permit for a private-use wind turbine that Mac Bell plans to install on the banks of the Annisquam River, rising 240 feet into the air and only 315 feet from a playground.
Sixty neighbors who live in the immediate vicinity of the proposed turbine site signed a petition opposing it. Ward 3 Councilor Steven Curcuru dismissed this number as "insignificant."
The Zoning Board of Appeals made some important decisions last month (April 17th) based on verbal assurances from the developers. ...The skyline of our city is at stake, the protection of neighbors from catastrophe and the potential of wind energy to be a key part of the future economy of our city. Both our architectural legacy and wind energy are among the most important assets that we own as a city and that we share with each other. They are, in a sense, like our commons. We should have proof, before we give them away, that they will be used to their best advantage.
I respectfully disagree with Councilor George's conclusions regarding the Emerson Avenue wind turbine project and the Gloucester Zoning Ordinance criteria. First, Section 5.22.3(c) clearly states that the location must minimize "adverse visual" impacts. The City Council certainly had visual impacts in mind, or they would not have approved including the word "visual."
Additionally, the applicant has not met all the criteria, because they are unable to meet the setback requirements. They are seeking an exception to the current law. If they truly met all the criteria, a waiver would not be necessary.
The recent Planning Board vote against recommending a citizens petition (Article 29) permitting the erection of wind turbines in Harvard was a correct decision. It was clear that the board was not against wind turbines, but that any bylaw be developed with consideration to existing bylaws, abutters rights, impact on the town and strike a balance between a property owner's rights and all other parties. The Planning Board is in the best position to accomplish this after thorough research, input from the entire community and consistency with our current bylaws.
Last week, however, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a version of the Ocean Management Act which I believe was a Trojan horse to slip through a massive change in the Ocean Sanctuaries Act without public input and without a public hearing. ...The change in the Ocean Sanctuaries Act appears to be an attempt to assist one project proposed by Patriot Renewables to construct 120 wind turbines in Buzzards Bay. Back in 2006, the Secretary of Environmental Affairs ruled that the large scale wind farm proposed by Patriot Renewables is not permitted under the Ocean Sanctuaries Act.
Do you remember open-book tests, the ones where you could look up the answers to the questions?
Those are the kind of tests that Cape Wind has passed.
Here are some questions that weren't on the test.
What right do you have to build an energy plant in what amounts to an ocean sanctuary?
How can you describe the Nantucket Sound project as the harbinger of more offshore energy installations when the Draft Environmental Impact Statement listed so many problems with alternative sites?
Why should the project's impact on cultural resources such as Barnstable's historic districts be left unaddressed until some post-approval negotiation over mitigation?
How can a state agency charged to overturn the decisions of state and local agencies (if these actions would threaten the provision of adequate and appropriate power supplies) reject a regional regulatory commission's judgment? How, indeed, when the state Legislature that created both decreed that the commission's actions could be challenged only in the courts?
Is the Massachusetts Audubon Society, with a mission to protect birds, selling them out for a contract worth over 7,000,000 dollars to monitor their deaths? ...The saga of the Massachusetts Audubon Society and the Cape Wind project continues with the January 14, 2008 release of the MMS Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Massachusetts Audubon's lack of follow through on its Challenge to Cape Wind and its permitting agencies, to "Get it right."
According to a story written by reporter Beth Delay of the Boston Globe on January 15, 2008, just one day after the DEIS release, Jack Clarke, director of public policy and government relations for the Massachusetts Audubon Society is satisfied that the MMS Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Cape Wind project has addressed the groups concerns, ""They (MMS) have done an adequate and thorough job of reviewing the potential environmental impacts with regard to avian life" he said."
It would seem Mr. Clarke has conveniently forgotten "The Mass Audubon Challenge" clearly stated publicly in the media.
The smugness with which the two abutters opposing the Hyannis Country Gardens wind turbine were met at a recent meeting by some planning board members and non-abutters was, to me, insulting.
It is sad that the Savoy Planning Board has been made to look like the bad guys in this case, and it is unfortunate that we have had to endure so many attacks from both sides of this issue, only to have it come to this conclusion.
I can state without any reservation that the current members of the Planning Board are dedicated folks who really tried to develop a bylaw that was best for Savoy. Despite our individual beliefs regarding wind energy, we really worked diligently to maintain neutrality as we developed our version of the bylaw. ...As a result of these developments, I have submitted my letter of resignation to the Selectboard, basically stating that in my opinion serving on this board is a "no-win" situation.
I do wish the town of Savoy the best for the future and only hope that the decision to accept this bylaw was the right one. I also sincerely hope that the wounds inflicted in this battle will be healed and that we can move forward to a brighter future.
Lack of vision and an inability to understand the importance of preserving a town's character and its sense of place, combined with the negative impact of commercial development, has made Fairhaven what it is today. A big part of our problem has been Executive Secretary Jeff Osuch and this non-elected public official's ability to control town government. His blind confidence in new technology has made us a testing ground for pet projects.
This time, the town has been sold on two giant misplaced wind turbines by using a smokescreen of environmentalism. Again, he has masterfully played town government to make it happen.