Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Massachusetts
From those suggestions, the planning authority drafted a bylaw, but members ultimately voted not to proceed with it at their meeting Feb. 25. The systems committee continued forward, submitting its own version through a citizens' petition that required 10 signatures. "We want to discuss it, hear what people's concerns are, see if we can address them," said Sweeney. "It's an opportunity for us to change where we get our energy from." Under the proposed bylaw, any tower taller than 140 feet would require a special permit from the Planning Board; setbacks from property lines would be equal to the height of the turbine; and the noise generated by the windmills could not exceed 10 A-weighted decibels - roughly equivalent to the sound of rustling leaves.
The Planning Board tonight will examine whether to make changes to a proposed town bylaw that would streamline permitting for wind power projects north of Route 128, but set limits on their size and how they can be used. The board began working on the bylaw after Manchester Athletic Club proposed building a windmill on its Atwater Avenue property last year and asked for guidance on what it would need to get a permit. ...But the bylaw - with an eye toward prohibiting commercial wind farms - would require any wind power project to use at least 50 percent of the electricity it generates for its own use and establish setback guidelines for how far a unit needs to be from the nearest property line.
A council committee has decided to reconsider a thumbs-down given last month to a wind turbine designed to clean-power a futuristic and future office building on the bank of the Annisquam River. The three-member Planning and Development Committee voted against developer Mac Bell's proposal at the end of a lengthy public hearing in February, but Bell is getting a second chance to pitch the project Wednesday night. ...Councilor Philip Devlin said he was concerned about the "visual impact on the community."
The possibility that four commercial wind turbines, more than 400 feet tall each, could be installed in North Eastham near the old Tilcon Plant drove the homeowners in that neighborhood to petition 2007 town meeting with a zoning bylaw that would have made it very difficult, if not impossible, to install commercial turbines of that height in town. The committee presented its proposed bylaw to the selectmen last fall. The selectmen made some changes to make it more possible for commercial turbines to be installed in town, with the intent of presenting it to the town meeting this year. But those changes did not sit well with the former ad hoc committee members, who have submitted the bylaw they presented to selectmen for townspeople to consider in May, once again as a petitioned article on the warrant. So again, voters will have two proposed commercial wind zoning bylaws to consider, along with a proposed zoning bylaw for private wind facilities that could possibly be shared by several homeowners.
The town of Hull has cut energy costs dramatically through its use of wind turbines. Kingston officials are hoping to do the same. Town Meeting will be asked to consider proposals that would expand the wind turbine overlay district and allow the town to enter into the wind turbine business. If Town Meeting, which meets April 5, approves it, Town Planner Thomas Bott said a proposal to expand the current wind turbine overlay district off Cranberry Road would mean an additional 3,150 square feet to the current 38-acre district.
According to several MMS officials outside of the auditorium, the pleas of the fishing community were stronger here than they had been in South Yarmouth or on Nantucket. Rodney Cluck, MMS project manager for the Cape Wind development, offered that this is precisely why they hold these meetings. "The DEIS does not take into account the community impact. You can sit in your office for two years working on the science but then you have to get out and listen to what the community has to say." When asked whether or not public opinion could ultimately play a roll in the Interior Department's decision, Mr. Cluck replied that all relevant information would be taken into consideration and that "local knowledge" will contribute to the report made to the Secretary. Supporters were few and far between.
State and regional regulators acknowledge the hurdles - especially in northern New Hampshire - but don't have ready solutions. A bill before the New Hampshire Senate would have the state be ready to act if no regional solution is forthcoming. ISO New England, which manages power for the region, is considering changing rules so more of the costs of transmission upgrades could be shared regionally. But as things stand now, backers of projects generally must pay for upgrades needed to connect them to the system. "None of this is a real speedy process," acknowledges Michael Harrington, senior regional policy adviser for the state Public Utilities Commission.
With high-profile wind power projects springing up across the state and region, the Planning Board has proposed a new bylaw that would allow small turbines in town, but prohibit large windmills or commercial wind farms. The bylaw, which planners submitted for this year's annual Town Meeting, was spurred by a recent proposal from a Tree Hill landowner to build a turbine, which was ultimately approved. But the situation revealed to local officials that existing building regulations were not sufficient to deal with wind power projects. "When we had an application for a permit, we had no guidelines for dealing with it," Planning Board member Andrew St. John said
The wind power bylaw would allow wind turbines in the Limited Commercial District north of Route 128 while also establishing restrictions on where and how they can be built and used. The bylaw, submitted by the Planning Board, was spurred by Manchester Athletic Club's proposal to build a turbine on its Atwater Avenue property. But since planners submitted the article, the club has become concerned about some restrictions included in it. Melville said the Planning Board was considering changes to language in the article and was scheduled to hold a public hearing on it next week.
The Cohasset Planning Board has modified a proposed regulation for wind turbines to make it less restrictive. The change could affect one developer's plans to erect commercial-grade wind turbines on a ridge behind Graham Waste Services Inc. at 215 Chief Justice Cushing Highway. ...The idea for the safety-zone setback is that in the unlikely case of a turbine tower toppling, it would not fall onto someone else's property. But Andrew Willard, chairman of the alternative energy committee, said one of two proposed turbine sites on the Barry-controlled land could not meet that requirement. If that tower fell, it could extend onto the neighboring Hingham Lumber property, he said.
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.
These are strange times for the state's coastal legislators. First, in November, they were subjected to an energy bill sneak attack that opened up their coastlines to unfettered wind farm development. They balked, as did the Senate, which had been pushing an oceans management bill authored by Senator Robert O'Leary as a way to set up a framework for plopping turbines down in the water. The senate had threatened to hold Sal DiMasi's energy bill hostage if the House didn't act on their oceans bill, so House leadership pushed a gutted, bizzaro version of the senate's bill to the floor last week. Turns out, it wasn't a whole lot more than a reworded version of an amendment leadership tried to cram through in November-reportedly at the behest of prospective developer Jay Cashman.
With a major wind farm in the works for Nantucket Sound, and as the town looks into ocean-based sites off Tuckernuck and elsewhere near the island, the Energy Study Committee is taking more of a landlubber's approach to wind power. The committee has submitted an application to the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to have a "Municipal Wind Turbine Site Study" to assess the potential for generating wind power on government-owned land. ..."We don't want to alarm people," said energy commission vice-chair Barbara Gookin. "Just because we're looking at a site, doesn't mean we are going to build a turbine there."
There are concerns with the proposed Wind Energy Conversion Systems bylaw, including its impact on viewsheds, tree removal to make way for windmills, and windmill height and setback standards. Associate Planner Leo Blair said at the Feb. 4 Planning Board meeting that he's concerned that conservation-minded residents who want to put up a windmill for clean energy may have to clear-cut trees to install them. The technology for wind-energy-system technology is getting better, said board Chairman Mary Essary, allowing smaller machines to generate more energy.
A House bill that would open up Buzzards Bay and other ocean sanctuaries to large-scale renewable energy projects is likely to face serious opposition in the Senate, based on reaction from Senate leaders yesterday. The House passed an oceans bill Wednesday that would allow renewable energy development along most of the state's coastline, including sanctuaries. Critics say it also would remove a major obstacle to Boston developer Jay Cashman's proposal for as many as 120 wind turbines in Buzzards Bay. Currently, renewable energy projects only can be put in ocean sanctuaries under special circumstances. ...House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, who supports the provision, has said it resolves conflicts in the law. He argues renewable energy projects would still be subject to federal, state and local review. He has denied it was a favor to Cashman, a close friend.
The state House of Representatives approved an ocean management bill last night that would allow renewable energy projects in ocean sanctuaries, removing a major obstacle to a proposal by developer Jay Cashman to build up to 120 wind turbines in Buzzards Bay. Cashman is a close friend of House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, D-Boston. The oceans bill won preliminary approval from the House, 143-6. It will eventually move to a House-Senate conference panel. The ocean sanctuaries provision has less support in the Senate. ...Rep. Eric Turkington, D-Falmouth, said both the House and Senate ocean bills would allow wind turbines in ocean sanctuaries in some fashion. "The debate about whether wind turbines will be allowed on the Massachusetts coast is over," Turkington said. "The final debate is what's appropriate and where it's appropriate and what compensation the host communities get."
State environmental officials today gave an initial approval to the nation's first grouping of offshore wind turbines, to be built off the coast of Hull, 1.5 miles east of Nantasket Beach. A decision by Ian Bowles, secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, opens the way for Hull to build four power-generating windmills capable of producing enough electricity to power the town. The turbines are planned to be built on a shoal known as Harding's Ledge, and would be the first offshore series of wind turbines in the country. ...Before offshore turbine construction can begin, studies must be performed to determine whether the ocean floor could support the turbines and how the construction might affect lobsters and other marine wildlife, ESS Group officials said.
The City Council last night approved an ordinance allowing wind turbines to be erected on residential property, but the Oak Hill Road couple whose plans to produce wind power sparked the debate blasted the legislation as overly restrictive. ...The amended language - with the larger setbacks - was adopted and the ordinance was approved by a unanimous council vote.
The Berkshire Wind Project, a $25 million, 10-turbine wind energy project on Brodie Mountain that is facing two lawsuits, is under contract to be sold to a municipal utility consortium for $4 million. Once the sale is completed in May, the new ownership status could render one pending lawsuit moot and prevent new lawsuits from further delaying the project. ...A lawsuit against the project by Silverleaf Resorts, which plans a 332-unit, $42 million condominium project at the former Brodie ski area site off Route 7, has entered a motion to dismiss the legal proceedings. Another lawsuit brought by Silverleaf Resorts and two residents of Hancock, which alleges that a special permit had expired before construction of the project started and that the special permit was not issued legally, could become moot upon completion of the sale. MMWEC, created by the Legislature in 1975, is owned by municipally owned utility companies. It's a nonprofit, publicly owned corporation, and a political subdivision of the state. As such, MMWEC is exempt from local zoning regulations, which would render the second lawsuit no legal grounds.
Passage of a bylaw that sets limits for wind-turbine noise could be another step toward town use of wind power. The planning board's bylaw proposal calls for using noise standards that were adopted by the state Department of Environmental Protection. The bylaw, which will be voted on at town meeting, would require that any application for permission to install a turbine include information about the current noise level and how much noise the turbine would produce. It also would limit the noise increase. The measuring of noise would be done at the base of the turbine and the property line. ...‘‘There is a tremendous opportunity for wind turbines, but there are a lot of questions that need to be answered, but we can eliminate any undue expectations about (turbines ) being too noisy,'' he said.