Documents filed under Zoning/Planning from Massachusetts
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.
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.
Residents of the Town of Dartmouth, Massachusetts filed this complaint against the Town's Selectboard members due to legal failures identified in the complaint involving a special permit to construct two utility-scale wind turbines. The introduction of the complaint is provided below. The full complaint can be accessed by clicking on the link(s) at the bottom of this page.
As interest in wind energy spreads throughout the Commonwealth, it becomes clear that there is a need within the cities and towns of Massachusetts for suitable zoning by-laws that accommodate wind projects. To help address this need, the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources and Executive Office of Environmental Affairs developed this Model Amendment to a Zoning Ordinance or By-Law to assist cities and towns in establishing reasonable standards for wind power development. The by-law is developed as a model and not intended for adoption without review by municipal counsel:
The implementation of consistent statewide standards to achieve the timely and cost-effective installation of small wind energy systems is a matter of statewide concern. It is the intent of the Legislature that this section apply to all local agencies, including, but not limited to, towns, cities and counties.Editor's Note: This small wind zoning statute, drafted by Paul Gay (Westport, MA) is currently in joint committee in the MA state legislature. The author describes himself as a proponent of small wind with an interest in promoting regulations that are drafted in such a way as to insure a properly functioning system while protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public.
The Hawley Wind Study Committee was established by town meeting vote and was directed to issue a report to the selectmen. Interested citizens were asked to submit a letter of interest to selectmen who then selected the committee. The committee first examined potential positive financial benefits to the town. Community based wind development was explored for a piece of town-owned land with the assistance of the UMass Renewable Energy Resource Lab. The committee determined that development of the site was not feasible. Lengthily discussions on the associated various negative impacts of wind plants followed. It was determined that our current bylaws would not require any form of local review to minimize these impacts. A report outlining the above was provided to the selectmen concluding that the appropriate course of action was to establish a wind power bylaw.
The purposes of this wind-generated energy production facilities section are to: A. Protect the scenic, historic, environmental, and natural or man-made resources of the community without prohibiting alternative energy technologies to be developed. B. Provide standards and requirements for regulation, placement, construction, monitoring, design, modification and removal of wind facilities. C. Provide a procedural basis for action within a reasonable period of time for request for authorization to place, construct, operate, or modify wind facilities. D. Preserve property values. E. Locate wind facilities so that they do not have negative impacts such as, but not limited to, attractive nuisance, noise, falling objects, general safety, welfare and quality of life, wildlife and the environment in the community. F. Require owners of wind facilities to configure them so as to minimize and mitigate the adverse impact of the wind facilities.
This power point presentation addresses the issues and suggests strategies for achieving changes in local zoning and planning regulations.