Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Massachusetts
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.
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?
Staples officials say they aren't planning to wait for the town to adopt a wind turbine bylaw before getting a ruling from the Zoning Board of Appeals on their appeal of a height variance for their 240-foot tower. ...Precinct 10 Town Meeting member Kathie McCarthy joined the group asking for Staples to slow down its planned turbine, which was first discussed with town officials at a Planning Board meeting in June 2006. "It's to the benefit of Staples to do this right, not slide it through," she said. Zoning Board Chairman Phil Ottaviani noted that the turbine is an allowed use and that the appeal is based only on the height of the proposed structure, which would be three times the town's 80-foot limit. "I think we need to put science before politics," said Town Meeting Precinct 16 Chairman William LaBarge, who added he doesn't believe Framingham has enough wind to support the turbine.
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.
Rep. Patrick Kennedy said yesterday that a wind farm located in Rhode Island waters between Newport and Block Island would be a bad idea because it would hurt the state’s tourism and fishing industries. Those waterways are frequently used by people who sail between the two locations for recreation and racing, said Kennedy, a recreational sailor. “I’m sorry, you can’t tell me that’s not going to affect tourism, the fishing industry and everything else. It just is. There is no other convincing me that it won’t,” he said. ...Asked whether he thought there was any site in Rhode Island waters that would be suitable for a wind farm, Kennedy said, “I don’t think it would be a good idea. A lot of it depends … we’re talking size, location.” He backed off a bit from that statement, saying “I’d have to take a look at it. ... I wouldn’t rule it out.”
A key federal agency said Monday that a proposed wind farm off Cape Cod would pose no major environmental problems, giving a boost to the project that has sparked a long and bitter public fight. A draft environmental report by the Minerals Management Service said plans by developer Cape Wind Associates to build 130 windmills across 25 miles of federal waters in Nantucket Sound would have mostly 'minor' or 'negligible' effects on wildlife, ocean navigation, fishing and tourism. ...A spokesman for the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the leading opposition group to the wind farm, said the report underestimated the project's environmental threats. 'We're disappointed because there are still gaps in what's been put in the report,' said Glenn Wattley in a phone interview with The Associated Press. 'Statements that there is minimal environmental impact, we think are wrong. There are very important and serious impacts.'
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.
There will be no second showdown between opponents in the Town's wind turbine development debate. The Planning Board voted 4-1 during a special meeting on Wednesday night to rescind its promise to bring forth a bylaw that, if approved at a special town meeting, would have replaced the wind turbine regulating bylaw townspeople adopted on Jan. 3. in a 155-56 vote. "We don't want to aggravate the town," said Thomas Sadin, who resigned from his position on the Planning Board during Wednesday's meeting. "If there had been a low turnout at the vote last week, it might have been a whole different story. But, a significant portion of the town showed up and we have to take that seriously."
Nantucket's Planning & Economic Development Commission voted unanimously last week to support Edgartown's proposed tidal generation project between Muskeget and Martha's Vineyard. ...The NP&EDC also voted unanimously at the meeting to direct Blue Wave Strategies of Boston, Mass. to apply to the Minerals Management Service for a lease of one square mile of ocean south of Tuckernuck Island for the installation of a data collection tower to be used to determine the viability of building an offshore wind farm. Both actions are in line with the Planning Commission's and Nantucket's belief that alternative energy installations are good for the Cape and islands, but not for Nantucket Sound.
The massive offshore wind farms proposed for Nantucket Sound and Buzzards Bay generate most of the headlines. But most of the progress in renewable energy in Massachusetts this year will be seen among much smaller turbine projects. The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative estimates that 10 wind turbine projects could be built and connected to the grid in 2008. Nearly all of them, however, are just one- or two-turbine projects.
Savoy has leapt closer to welcoming wind turbine development on its ridgelines. Voters who attended last night's special town meeting decided by secret ballot 155-56 to adopt a turbine-regulating bylaw in an approval that satisfied the required two-thirds majority. ...Planning Board Chairman Jamie Reinhardt said he hoped to put the board's bylaw to a vote at another special town meeting some time in the next four weeks. The vote would specify that the board's bylaw would supersede Malloy's if passed.
This is Savoy's last shot, Harold "Butch" Malloy of Chapel Road said on Wednesday inside his small, two-story log cabin: Either Savoy residents want wind-powered electricity turbines in town or they don't — and they will need to decide tonight at a special town meeting at 7 p.m. in the fire station. Malloy has written a bylaw using a state-designed template that would allow wind turbine developers to apply for a special building permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals. ...The members of Savoy's Planning Board disagree with Malloy's sense of urgency. The board has written its own bylaw and intends to put that one to a vote at another special town meeting, tentatively scheduled for Jan. 17. Planning Board Chairman Jamie Reinhardt has contended that the board's bylaw, which has a 350-foot turbine height limit, is not so restrictive that it would deter all development. Instead, he has said the board's bylaw would do more to protect the rights and interests of residents than Malloy's.
Eighty-two residents of that neighborhood have signed a petition against the proposal. "In spite of significant neighborhood opposition and negative vote by the ZBA, they are still pursuing something that is not economically viable," said Anne Frasca, a certified public accountant whose property abuts the park and who organized the opposition. "The savings generated are minimal - $1,900 a year. . . . That's assuming estimates on wind in the area are accurate, but they never did a full analysis on the wind." The parks commission has said that a professional study doesn't make sense financially for a proposal that will cost the town so little. While Town Meeting approved $60,000 to purchase the turbine, a state grant would reimburse the town $45,000.
Governor Deval Patrick's administration proposed several changes to state environmental-protection laws yesterday that could help speed construction of offshore wind-power farms, including the controversy-plagued Cape Wind project that Patrick strongly backs. ...One major change would be to declare cables conveying power from offshore renewable-energy projects - including wind farms and hydroelectric generating units - to be water-dependent. That designation would get those projects speedier, more favorable consideration by department regulators, who are required by Chapter 91 to apply heavier scrutiny to nonwater-dependent projects in protected waterfront and river areas.
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.
Planning Board chairman Gary Gilbert said his board has begun that exploration, which will include hiring a consultant and visiting wind facilities. Gilbert has prepared a draft bylaw, but "the board is not ready to go through that yet because they want to learn about the general subject matter first," he said. "It's new to many people on the board." Board of Selectmen chairwoman Sue Thorne said she supports developing a comprehensive wind bylaw "as long as there are reasonable and sensible guidelines. By having a bylaw in place, it gives any applicant an opportunity to be aware of what the parameters are" for building a tower to harness wind energy.
The Zoning Board of Appeals, Wednesday night, granted Mulcor Wind Inc. a special permit to erect a 197-foot meteorological test tower on Mountain Hill Road in South Plymouth. A 20-day appeal period follows this approval. According to the permit, the test tower cannot exceed 199-feet and must be dismantled after 18 months. The tower will measure the velocity and amount of wind on the site to help the developer determine if there’s enough wind to merit the installation of three wind turbines on the property.
The town’s plan to put up a wind turbine at Fairbanks Park will not get its day in court, but advocates say the environmentally conscious, money-saving project is far from dead. Park and Recreation Commission Chairman Donald Reisner announced Monday that to spare Dedham a potentially expensive and messy court battle between town boards, he would not launch a legal challenge to the Zoning Board of Appeals ruling that derailed the windmill this fall. Instead of seeking a lawsuit, Reisner, the project’s lead proponent, said he would investigate bringing the plan before the ZBA again for another crack at a special permit, a move that would require permission from the Planning Board.