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Pros and cons of wind turbines voiced again

The discussion over changing the city's wind turbine laws continues. The Planning Board agreed to discuss the proposed amendments to the law at its next meeting on March 17, following a public hearing Wednesday, where abutters of the city's only turbine in the industrial park urged them to take up the review. Others urged city officials not to make setback changes based on an "arbitrary" number and to use data to support any amendments.

NEWBURYPORT - The discussion over changing the city's wind turbine laws continues.

The Planning Board agreed to discuss the proposed amendments to the law at its next meeting on March 17, following a public hearing Wednesday, where abutters of the city's only turbine in the industrial park urged them to take up the review. Others urged city officials not to make setback changes based on an "arbitrary" number and to use data to support any amendments.

Under the city's laws, the Planning Board has the right to weigh in on any changes to an existing bylaw and make a recommendation to the City Council. They have 21 days following a public hearing to issue a recommendation, and then the council votes to make any changes.

The city's wind turbine law was adopted in 2008. About a year ago, the City Council's Planning and Development Subcommittee began reviewing the ordinance after the neighbors of Mark Richey Woodworking complained and raised concerns about the impact of noise and flicker from his 292-foot turbine and questioned the proximity of the structure to their neighborhood.

The City Council is proposing to change the current setback amount and to increase the notification process for... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

NEWBURYPORT - The discussion over changing the city's wind turbine laws continues.

The Planning Board agreed to discuss the proposed amendments to the law at its next meeting on March 17, following a public hearing Wednesday, where abutters of the city's only turbine in the industrial park urged them to take up the review. Others urged city officials not to make setback changes based on an "arbitrary" number and to use data to support any amendments.

Under the city's laws, the Planning Board has the right to weigh in on any changes to an existing bylaw and make a recommendation to the City Council. They have 21 days following a public hearing to issue a recommendation, and then the council votes to make any changes.

The city's wind turbine law was adopted in 2008. About a year ago, the City Council's Planning and Development Subcommittee began reviewing the ordinance after the neighbors of Mark Richey Woodworking complained and raised concerns about the impact of noise and flicker from his 292-foot turbine and questioned the proximity of the structure to their neighborhood.

The City Council is proposing to change the current setback amount and to increase the notification process for abutters of any proposed turbine.

The current setback is 300 feet. The council is looking to increase that to 900 feet, or three times the height of the tip of the turbine's blade. Under the ordinance, the maximum height a turbine can be is 300 feet tall.

At-large Councilor Barry Connell, who is chairman of the council's Planning and Development Subcommittee, told the Planning Board councilors wanted to be "more conservative" with the ordinance than it has been.

Ward 5 City Councilor Brian Derrivan, who also sits on the subcommittee, wondered if the city has reached a point where it should just ban wind turbines from being put up in the city, saying he wants to inject "common sense" into the discussion.

"I do not want to slam this down the throats of the people; do we get to the point where we just ban them?" he asked. "I don't want to be here in another year saying we screwed up again. I'm all for alternative energy, but in the correct manner. We have to do it right."

Jim Stiles of Strong Street told board members that "absolutely and without question" simple setback is the wrong way to address flicker. Shadows from flicker are not symmetrical, Stiles said. Setbacks address safety, such as ice throw or concerns of collapse, he said.

Cliff Goudey, a member of the city's Energy Advisory Committee, urged the Planning Board to take that committee's recommendations into consideration. "There are ways to deal with public safety, flicker and noise," he said.

But Andy Morris of Cherry Street told the city officials that he didn't think the proposed change to the setback was large enough.

Other countries have setbacks measured in miles, not feet, Morris said.

"I would go by that," he said. "This has all been done for us if we look enough."

Rob Germinara, who owns a business across from Mark Richey Woodworking, told the Planning Board and councilors that the city should be embracing alternative energy and not discouraging it by widening the setback so much it would ban future turbines from going up.

Jason LaCroix of Hill Street told the group the "only logical thing" he heard during the meeting was from Derrivan. The city has been studying the ordinance for years, spending countless hours and effort, he said.

The current turbine has no benefit for the city as a whole, LaCroix said. There are other forms of alternative energy, such as solar or geothermal, that wouldn't have a negative impact on residents, he added.

"Is it really worth it to save a business owner a few bucks to put money in their pocket?" he asked. "I say nix them all together, just ban them."


Source: http://www.newburyportnews....

MAR 5 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/24915-pros-and-cons-of-wind-turbines-voiced-again
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