Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Massachusetts
The shallow water just miles from the Rehoboth Beach shoreline could be the site of the country's first offshore wind farm -- but it will not be the only one, as similar projects are racing forward in Massachusetts and New York, experts say.
After three years of meetings, tests and studies, a pair of wind towers slated to be built on land in Fairhaven were approved at Town Meeting. But it's not over yet. Plymouth renewable energy project developer James Sweeney, of CCI Energy, said there is still much to do to get the blades spinning. "The next step is to the remaining permitting, electrical, state requirements, surveying the land, soil testing," Sweeney said. "We're hoping to have them running before the end of 2007."
The Cape Cod Commission isn't the only entity that thinks it should review the entire Cape Wind project, not just the portions on land and in state waters. In a report by Elizabeth White aired this week on WCAI/WNAN FM, Barbara Hill, the executive director of Clean Power Now (which supports construction of the 130-turbine project in Nantucket Sound) said she would not object to the agency performing a full review as long as it did not delay a decision.
NORWELL - Selectmen are looking for interested citizens to serve on the town's new wind power committee. Committee members will look into the feasibility and benefits of using wind power to generate electricity in the town of Norwell, as well as determine where wind turbines could potentially be placed, which will require a look into zoning bylaws and the aesthetics of neighborhoods. The five-member committee would report periodically to selectmen and to Town Meeting with updates on its research.
HARWICH = Wind energy took a big step forward in Harwich when the planning board last Tuesday voted unanimously to grant Gerald Bojanowski a special permit to construct and operate a commercial wind turbine on the site of his business in an industrial-zoned part of town. The 123-foot turbine will supply energy to Bojanowski's public storage/locker company Depot Storage as well as to other businesses in the same building at 500 Depot St., North Harwich. The turbine will have a 30-year lifespan, he added.
FLORIDA - The Hoosac Wind project's wetlands permit, mired in procedural appeals for about two years, was reissued late yesterday by the acting commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection. The permit had been issued by the DEP, only to be withdrawn later when a group of citizens and an organization known as Green Berkshires appealed it to the Division of Administrative Law Appeals in February 2005. On May 14, Administrative Magistrate Natalie S. Monroe ruled against the wetlands permit. Her ruling then went to the DEP acting commissioner's office for review. The acting commissioner, Arleen O'Donnell, could have upheld the magistrate's ruling, but she found that the main contention was without merit after consulting with the most recent standards established for the protection of stream beds and stream banks.
A recently released Department of Defense report calls for a 25-kilometer "offset zone" between possible wind farms and the PAVE PAWS radar installation in Sagamore. However, Cape Wind Associates' plan for a wind farm in Nantucket Sound would fall slightly more than two kilometers outside such a zone. According to the report, that means the proposed wind farm would not affect operations at the strategically vital defense radar site.
For several years US Congressman William Delahunt has been urging the United States Department of Defense to conduct a detailed study on whether the Cape Wind project 2 would interfere with the massive radar facility on the Upper Cape called Pave Paws 1. Two week's ago Congressman Delahunt changed his mind about whether the Massachusetts Military Reservation where the Pave Paws is located was a good place for a wind farm.
"Whatever energy benefits this project may provide are far outweighed by the conflicts it imposes on the public's safety," said Vinick. "Radar interference is no longer a theory, but a demonstrated threat confirmed by DOD that Cape Wind must acknowledge. It is now time for Cape Wind to find a more suitable site for this project."
As towns across Cape Cod make their foray into the emerging field of municipal wind energy development, all eyes it seems are on Orleans, which could have the first turbines up and running on the Lower Cape by early 2008.
Meanwhile, Burgess and a group of citizens - all of them supporters of alternative energy sources - have worked with planning board vice chairman Taylor White to craft a bylaw that clearly defines the use of residential wind turbines. Windmills are allowed under current zoning laws, but not much is said about them beyond that. In fact, Burgess was initially turned down by the zoning board because he filed his special permit request under the wrong provision of the bylaws. The proposed regulations seek to end the confusion and put clear parameters on residential windmills, White said. The new bylaw would dictate setback requirements, height restrictions at 150 feet - 180 feet if evidence is shown to warrant a taller turbine - and define how town officials can deal with someone who abandons a tower, among other provisions, White said. The proposal was modeled after bylaws recently approved by town meeting voters in Bourne, as well as other Cape communities.
A June 6, 2007 article in the Falmouth Enterprise titled "Bill Delahunt Pushing for Energy Independence at Military Base," may have taken some Cape residents by surprise. We'd become accustomed to headlines touting the Congressman's concerns about possible radar disruption at the Massachusetts Military Reservation if the proposed wind farm were to be built in Nantucket Sound.
HANCOCK - The May court date for the lawsuit filed against the Berkshire Wind project by Silverleaf Resorts has been postponed to Nov. 13 to allow the two parties time to work out a resolution of their differences. According to Michael Vhay, an attorney representing Berkshire Wind Project LLC, a subsidiary of Distributed Generation Systems Inc. in Lakewood, Colo., the postponement is the result of a "joint motion" to allow the parties time to work together.
The Hoosac Wind project planned for Florida and Monroe now hangs on a pending ruling by the acting commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Natalie S. Monroe, an administrative magistrate with the Division of Administrative Law Appeals, ruled against the project in three of eight issues brought forward by 10 citizens of Florida and representatives of Green Berkshires in February 2005. Her ruling was submitted to the DEP on May 14. It is now under review by the acting DEP commissioner, Arlene O'Donnell, who can either overturn the ruling, which yanked a wetlands permit issued by DEP officials, or back it up. A DEP spokesman said O'Donnell's decision would be announced in several weeks.
I have been doing hours of research and I am still convinced that this is a bad plan for Fairhaven. Even with the noise factor aside, it is not a good financial plan if you study it carefully. I believe that many members voted because of their fear of global warming, or they were influenced by skewed and erroneous information given to them by the developer and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.
An offshore wind farm south of Tuckernuck Island - completely separate from the one proposed by Cape Wind Associates in Nantucket Sound - that could meet Nantucket's energy needs, is currently being pursued by town officials from Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, as well as Congressman Bill Delahunt.
What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas, but what happens in federal waters in Nantucket Sound that may affect the core resources that the Cape Cod Commission is charged to protect won't happen without Commission review.
As a tourist who visits the area, I notice what is transparent to most locals, and for me the skyline of Fairhaven is priceless. If the citizens of Fairhaven allow the wind power project to be built at the current proposed location, I believe you will be making a terrible mistake. The town may gain some money in taxes and offset some electrical energy costs, but it will not offset the loss in green space and, more importantly, the beauty of Fairhaven's historic charm.
In the Williams/Whitcomb world of tabloid journalism, there is no room for thoughtful discussion, for weighing costs against benefits, for understanding that self-interest is at work on both sides of the issue or for any kind of honest discussion. Such thoughts would get in the way of the facile thinking and cynical blather that fills their book and that is now commonplace on TV, radio and the Internet. Do you find yourself bored now that Don Imus and Rosie O'Donnell are off the air? Does the Internet no longer meet your need for trash talk? Then read this book. You won't learn anything substantive from it, but it'll be great entertainment.
Gov. Deval Patrick's administration is exploring sites for offshore wind turbines beyond Cape Wind's, a move the governor hopes will make Massachusetts a leader in renewable energy. During a wide-ranging interview with the Cape Cod Times editorial board, Patrick said the state is one of the best places for deep-water wind turbines and his administration wants to exploit that advantage. The state may locate and permit sites before a developer comes in with a plan, Patrick said. New Jersey, Rhode Island and Delaware are doing similar pre-permitting.