Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Massachusetts
Voters in this tiny Berkshire County hilltown, population around 800, overwhelmingly banned all new wind turbine development at a special town meeting. Thursday night's vote was 101-22, far more than the two-thirds majority needed to amend the town's zoning code.
John Tynan, chairman of the Select Board, said he learned many residents who wanted to attend the hearing were unable to do so because of the date. "We can't put all the players together," he said. "We thought we had all our ducks in a row but we didn't."
Proposed wind-power turbines on a Savoy ridge could get three stories taller. The town's Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing at 5 p.m. Thursday to consider amending its decade-old bylaw regulating wind energy.
“It [the project] will require the fragmenting of one of the largest blocks of undisturbed forest in western Massachusetts,” he said. “This project is about money — not about saving the environment.” “And then there’s the well-documented noise issues,” he said. “I’m convinced about 200 acres of our land will become undevelopable for residential use in the future.”
In the meantime, natural gas provides an abundant supply of clean, reliable, competitively priced energy. It's also called on to back up those green energy sources when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow.
The major question now is whether the state Senate can develop its own version of the bill and whether the two versions can be reconciled by House-Senate negotiators before the legislative session ends at the end of July.
In this detailed ruling issued by the Falmouth Zoning Board of Adjustment in reference to Wind 1, one of two Vestas 1,65 MW turbines sited at the town's water treatment center, the board listed 38 separate finding on whether a permit should be issued that would allow the turbine to continue operating. The turbine was shut down following a court ruling that found the turbine was erected the town without first securing a permit. Some of the 38 findings are provided below. The full document can be accessed by clicking the links on this page.
The appeals board voted 4-1 on April 14 in support of a draft decision to deny the special permit.
The decision means that Wind 1, one of the two turbines, will remain dormant in accordance with the board's September cease-and-desist order. The state's Appeals Court ruled in 2015 that the machine should have received a permit before it was constructed.
The Falmouth Select Board voted to recomend Town Meeting indefinitely postpone Article 27 Monday night.
The Falmouth selectmen made no public comment about the town's wind turbines at their Monday meeting, the first since Zoning Board of Appeals members indicated they would reject the town's application for a special permit to run one of the devices.
Following a decision-making flow chart prepared by Falmouth special counsel Mark Bobrowski, board members weighed the existing turbine’s consistency with the 2010 town bylaw that was in place when Wind 1 was erected. ...board chairman Kimberly A. Bielan argued that neighbors testified in the hearing that curtailment would not lessen the impact of the turbine on their daily lives.
The special-permit application is just one legal issue surrounding the turbines. Nine lawsuits are now pending in Barnstable Superior Court about their operation, said Westboro attorney Christopher Senie, who represents some of the neighbors. The special-permit denial may help quell some of those suits as well as deal with the continuing operation of Wind 2, he said.
On the morning of March 5, 2016, the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) deliberated over whether the Town's application for a special permit to retain Wind 1 should be approved. Wind 1 is the first of two Vestas V82 1.65 MW turbines erected at the community's wastewater treatment facility. The turbines created significant controversy following noise complaints by nearby residents beginning in 2010 when the turbines were first turned on. In a February 2015 ruling, the Massachusetts appeals court found that the Town of Falmouth failed to meet the requirements under the local bylaws when it erected Wind 1 without first obtaining a permit. The ZBA hearing was to determine whether a newly filed application met the requirements for a permit to be issued retroactively. Wind I has been idle since September 2015. The attached documents represent the arguments by the town's attorney (in favor of issuing a permit), the residents (on why a permit should not be issued), and a spreadsheet itemizing the decisions that need to be made the the ZBA. The below summary by Mark Cool explains how the Board ruled on each of the decisions.
The majority of board members found fault with the application on more than one front, including the zoning requirement that the turbine known as Wind 1 will not have "adverse effects" on either the neighborhood or the town. Throughout the permit hearing, which stretched over a half dozen meetings and several months, neighbors of the turbine presented evidence on multiple fronts, including personal testimony, in an attempt to show the negative effects of the turbine.
A six-year battle over the town's wind turbines faces a critical turning point Saturday when the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals will deliberate a special-permit application to keep one of the devices operational. The board has scheduled a public meeting to deliberate the application and is expected to vote on it, although a delay is possible. But whenever the board's decision comes, whether it marks the beginning of the end for the fight or simply sparks another round of litigation remains to be seen.
The board is holding a rare Saturday meeting to give itself more time to deliberate on the permit for the 397-foot-tall turbine known as Wind 1, which began spinning five years ago.
Representatives for the town and a dozen neighbors of its first wind turbine, known as Wind 1, gave closing remarks Thursday, January 28, regarding a special permit application for the turbine. The turbine is currently shut down in accordance with a cease-and-desist order issued by the board in the fall.
After hearing testimony and taking public comment, the board then denied an appeal by Linda Ohkagawa, who had requested that a cease-and-desist order prohibiting the operation of Wind 2 be enforced by the zoning enforcement officer. The board also denied an appeal seeking the same for Wind 1 and Wind 2 filed by Elizabeth and Neil Andersen. The appeals were denied based on the “doctrine of laches,” a rarely used doctrine that is enforced when parties assert their claim after a long delay.
The board was tasked with identifying whether the parties each had standing in the case; whether they had knowledge of the building permit for the turbine within 30 days of its issuance and had a duty to inquire about the project; and whether they were guilty of a doctrine called “laches,” defined as an unreasonable delay or negligence in pursuing a right or claim that prejudices the adverse party.