Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Massachusetts
Following a public hearing yesterday, the Cape Cod Commission voted to recommend a new adjudicatory process for Development of Regional Impact reviews of energy-related facilities under the jurisdiction of the state Energy Facilities Siting Board. Commission chair Bob Jones of Sandwich advised with a smile that he could save some "heartburn" for audience members by announcing that language making the changes applicable to the Cape Wind project would not be included. Actually, he probably just shifted the upset from backers of the project to its opponents. The latter had hoped Commission action would have established a process that would satisfy the EFSB's standards.
The Air Force has approved siting of a proposed wind turbine at the Massachusetts Military Reservation within a buffer zone around the PAVE PAWS radar station in Sagamore. In June, the U.S. Department of Defense established a 25-kilometer zone around the PAVE PAWS facility within which any proposed wind turbines would require review by military officials. The buffer zone is about 15 ½ miles.
Plymouth has been awarded a grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for Wind Turbine Project Feasibility Studies at a number of sites in town. The feasibility study will provide crucial information that will help Plymouth determine the most appropriate ways to pursue potential wind projects at up to three sites, including the wastewater treatment plant, Plymouth South High School and the Indian Brook Elementary School.
The state's largest commercial fishing organization is publicly challenging assertions by the developer of the Cape Wind project that their offshore wind energy project will actually improve fishing in Nantucket Sound. The Massachusetts Fishermen's Partnership (MFP), which is comprised of 18 commercial fishing organizations, decided to take its message to the airwaves in a TV commercial now appearing on several channels, said Executive Director David Bergeron, "because the public needs to know that sustainable commercial fishing would be impacted and displaced" by the Cape Wind development project on Horseshoe Shoal.
NEWBURY - The town's Alternative Energy Source Committee is hoping to catch the wind - or at least enough of it to save the town a little money. The three-member panel will apply to a program called the Community Wind Collaborative that would provide a meteorological test tower to measure the wind at a town-owned, 51/2-acre lot on Plum Island. The group wants to find out if there is enough of a breeze to operate a wind turbine to generate electricity that could be sold back to the region's power grid, energy committee Chairman Gene Smith said.
SOUTH DENNIS - Selectmen last night joined their Yarmouth counterparts in endorsing a wind data tower at the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School in South Yarmouth. The Dennis board unanimously approved placing the proposal before the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District Committee, which must ultimately decide whether the project moves forward. The proposed meteorological tower - known as an MET tower - is the next step in efforts to erect a wind turbine that could serve much of the regional school district's energy needs.
The Cape Cod Commission will hear public testimony this week on a process that may be used as it reviews Cape Wind Associates' proposal to build 130 wind turbines on Nantucket Sound. The proposed changes to the Commission process will affect projects that go before the state's energy facility siting board. That body has already approved the part of the Cape Wind project over which it has jurisdiction - the connection of the wind turbines' power line to the power grid. The Commission's regular meeting tomorrow begins at 3 p.m. with public comments on the new process in the Assembly of Delegates Chamber in the Barnstable District Courthouse.
Local environmentalists say rules changes proposed by state regulators would cut ordinary citizens out of the democratic process and leave the environment vulnerable to ill-considered development projects. They point to cases where citizen involvement has made a crucial difference in heading off developments, such as a plan to build houses on wetlands adjacent to Silver Lake in Kingston. The environmentally sensitive area ultimately became the Silver Lake Sanctuary, after residents appealed to the Department of Environmental Protection under the state's Wetlands Protection Act. The Department of Environmental Protection last month proposed changes intended to speed up environmental decisions that leave developers hanging for two years or more and imperil financing for worthwhile projects. The new rules would eliminate the right of any 10 residents of a community to appeal a DEP decision to the department's administrative law division for a hearing before an administrative law judge. But state officials say the new rules would retain essential protections.
BREWSTER - The discussion began cordially enough. After all, the two men on the small stage last night at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History were well respected in their own circles and came bearing long lists of endorsements for their views. But as the room heated up and despite a veneer of agreement on general issues such as the need to combat global warming and protect the Cape and Islands from environmental degradation, Jim Gordon and Charles Vinick were bound to disagree. The packed room of more than 140 audience members waited for it and when the oral blows fell, they cheered.
The six-year battle around Cape Wind is clear evidence that this project is deeply flawed. The conflicts that its location in Nantucket Sound presents to our economy, our environment and public safety are irresolvable, and a better site for the project needs to be identified. It is disappointing to see an elected Cape and Islands representative, Matt Patrick, offer such unqualified support for a project that would come at a great cost to the constituents he represents. The time has come to seek a consensus on a site outside of Nantucket Sound where a wind project can be built without damaging such a venerated national attraction. We look to Patrick and others in the Legislature to take up the challenge and find a win-win scenario, so that real progress can be made toward siting a commercial scale offshore wind facility. People may turn a deaf ear to the bickering that characterizes the Cape Wind conflict, but they would welcome a win-win solution to the problem, if only politicians like Rep. Patrick would pave the way.
SAVOY - Hoping to "start the clock ticking" on a commercial wind-turbine farm, Harold Malloy filed a petition Tuesday to amend the town's bylaws. Malloy - who owns the 290 acres on West Hill where Minuteman Wind LLC hopes to put a five-turbine, 12.5 megawatt wind farm - acquired the 45 signatures necessary to file the citizen's petition and put the question to a town vote. "This petition is to amend our existing bylaws and will be using the template bylaw from the Massachusetts Department of Energy. It would allow by special permit the construction of commercial wind facilities," Malloy said.
EASTHAM - It seems the dream of the former Eastham Energy Committee, to site four 460-foot tall wind turbines on town-owned property in North Eastham, was just that - a dream. There is little likelihood any commercial wind turbine will be erected in Eastham, due to noise and setback concerns. Tom Reilly, chairman of the Wind Turbine Ad Hoc Committee, told selectmen Monday that after five meetings, "a majority of the ad hoc committee feels that there are significant hurdles to siting commercial-scale wind turbines in a residentially zoned area in such a way that the noise impact does not negatively impact nearby residences."
Our position is steadfast that the locations of wind turbines need careful study, especially in New England with our heavily populated cities and towns. The inherent quality of life and the rights and privileges of the many residents negatively affected by these turbines cannot be ignored in our pursuit of alternative energy. Please visit Windwisefairhaven.com and listen to the Hull residents we visited and you will see that they do not all think their turbines are a great thing as Mr. Sweeney leads you to believe. I advise everyone concerned to please do the research.
As an example of how the system can be abused, Patrick administration officials like to point to the challenge to the Hoosac range wind farm in the Berkshires. State officials believe that area residents who have aesthetic objections to the wind turbines have focused on plans for the service roads to the ridge site as a way to delay or possibly block the whole project. But, whatever the motivations of the residents challenging the plans for the roads, they will cross streams in 10 places and merit an intense review process.
Tiny turbines on short towers may make people feel good about generating "green energy," but they make no sense economically. The fact that the real cost may be hidden or spread out over millions of payers does not change the basic economics.
European experiments with deep-water wind farms are raising hopes among opponents of the Cape Wind project that giant turbines could one day be built farther out to sea than previously believed. Talisman Energy has recently installed two giant turbines about 12 miles off the coast of Scotland in waters as deep as 150 feet. The so-called "Beatrice Project" is considered one of the first major pilot programs to test the technology needed to build turbines in deep waters. Other deep-sea pilot projects are being eyed in Germany and Britain.
WESTPORT - The Town Hall wind mill is still alive, despite the misgivings of some members of the Board of Selectmen. The board on Monday accepted a builder's bid for the project and also approved having him apply for a $63,400 grant to build the structure. The project was proposed by the Alternative Energy Committee and approved by Town Meeting this year. But two-thirds of the troika opposed to the wind turbine, Selectman Chairman Veronica F. Beaulieu, and Robert P. Rebello, only said yes on Monday because they have to vote to accept the grant. The third opponent, Selectman Gary Earle Mauk, tried to kill the idea at Town Meeting but was stopped by the Town Moderator for maneuvering to stack the hall.
Central Maine Power and Maine Public Service have asked the ISO New England to review the feasibility of a transmission line that would link northern Maine with the regional grid and create a path for wind power to flow to load centers in southern New England. Tim Brown, MPS director of corporate planning and regulatory affairs, said Thursday that the line, expected to be in excess of 100 miles, would allow transmission of more than 500 MW of wind power, most of it still in planning. While the idea of connecting northern Maine to the regional grid has been discussed for years, it has taken on a new significance given the difficulty utilities and merchant generators have encountered when they've attempted to build plants in the high-demand southern New England states. In addition to growing demand, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have renewable portfolio standards, which create pressure for more large scale wind. But no major projects have been built in southern New England. In northern Maine, about 42 MW of wind is operating and an additional 500 MW has been proposed. If the line is not built, Brown said wind electricity in northern Maine could be routed into Canada then into southern New England. That, however, would require major upgrades to grid interface between MPS and New Brunswick Power. Brown said the utilities expect the ISO impact study to be completed by the end of 2007.
Selectmen on Monday night voted to sign a 25-year lease with a private developer to install two 396-foot wind turbines on Little Bay. A final signature on the 22-page lease agreement is contingent on a formal site plan for the project to be submitted by developer CCI Energy. "It's time to move this lease forward," said Selectman Michael Silvia. "It's time to follow the Town Meeting's wishes."
Environmental activists are fuming because Governor Deval Patrick is trying to limit residents' right to appeal state permit decisions as part of an effort to speed up permitting decisions for developers. Advocates contend that the administration is not practicing what it preached during the campaign: openness and civic involvement for all. On devalpatrick.com, the website formed to solicit citizen input and to engage the governor's vast grass-roots network, readers are panning the notion of restricting citizens' involvement in the permitting process for wetlands development. The administration wants to rewrite wetlands regulations curbing that right of appeal.