Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Massachusetts
The fate of the proposed Little Bay wind turbines will be in the hands of Town Meeting voters on May 15. Selectmen Monday night scheduled a special Town Meeting for May 15 at 7 p.m. in the Hastings Middle School auditorium solely to deal with the issue after a citizen petition with 200 signatures reached their desks. Under state law, a special Town Meeting has to be called if citizens present a petition with at least 200 signatures.
While some windmill projects are laudable - most notably Jiminy Peak's relatively small-scale operation in Hancock - the Berkshires do not need a plethora blighting our scenery and providing a negligible blip on the Grid. This state also is spending - or planning to spend - far too much money in subsidies for out-of-state and even out-of-country developers whose "energy credits" derived from windmill projects will not make even a small dent in this nation's reliance on oil and coal. Far too many of the proposed windmill projects in this region seem to be geared more toward pleasing the greenies and "let's pretend to make a difference crowd" than they are toward producing significant energy.
A visit from the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission Thursday gave the Planning Board some guidance and new direction for its wind turbine bylaw. Appearing at the request of the board, Lauren Gaherty, an environmental planner for the commission, had a number of suggestions for the board as it enters what is, members hope, the final months of preparing the bylaw. Minuteman Wind LLC is proposing to build five 400-foot-tall wind turbines on West Hill. The 12-megawatt project has been in the planning stages for years, but the company has been waiting for the town to come forward with a wind-turbine bylaw before officially submitting its plans.
A test site has been selected to help determine whether wind-generated power is a feasible, economical energy source for Hingham. Municipal Lighting Plant general manager John Tzimorangas said an anemometer will be set up at the capped landfill, probably within the next few months. Tzimorangas, members of the light board and members of the Hingham Wind Committee have been meeting for months to discuss the possibility of using wind energy in town. Earlier this month the groups jointly sponsored a ‘‘Wind 101'' forum, to introduce residents to the concept. About 60 people attended the presentation at town hall.
WORCESTER- The Planning Board last night unanimously endorsed a proposed zoning amendment to allow wind turbines in the city. With its vote, the five-member board referred the amendment back to the City Council with a favorable recommendation. The City Council Land Use Committee is scheduled to hold another public hearing on the ordinance May 23. While the amendment was hailed by advocates as a historic first step in bringing the city to the forefront when it comes to renewable energy, others argued that it might be too restrictive.
After a few site visits and a "very informative" conference call, the Planning Board is hopeful it can have a usable wind turbine bylaw by this summer, according to Chairman Jamie Reinhardt. "Everybody thinks these things happen overnight, and everybody thinks that just because we've been working on it for three years means we have all the answers, but it doesn't," Reinhardt said at the board's meeting last week.
he Planning Board will hold a public hearing tomorrow night on a proposed zoning amendment to allow the siting of wind turbines in the city. While the city is interested in taking the lead in harnessing wind power as a clean and renewable energy source, there is a regulatory barrier preventing that. Because the use of wind turbines and windmills for the generation of electricity are not explicitly mentioned in the city's zoning ordinance, they are not a permitted use.
The types of developments that would be permitted by right with a site plan review range from printing establishments, warehouses, research and development facilities, offices, medical and dental facilities, corporate administrative buildings, water- or wind-power generators up to 80 megawatts, public utility and communications facilities, and other enclosed light industrial uses that do not involve hazardous materials.
Wind turbine developer CCI Energy LLC, wants two turbines installed by this fall, and the Mass Technology Collaborative has two they need to sell. CCI President James Sweeney told a standing room only crowd in the town hall meeting room on Wednesday night, April 4, that they are hoping to fast track the process by buying two 397-foot turbines from the MTC. The MTC faces $3,000 a month in storage costs for turbines they purchased in November 2005 after failing to find a buyer, according to Mass High Tech: The New England Journal of New England Technology.
HARWICH - Community wind energy is facing another setback, the town's utilities and energy conservation commission Chairman Barry Worth told selectmen Monday night. Three months ago, Worth reported to selectmen the town's ability to install commercial turbines in the 400-foot range with a 1,500 kilowatt capacity is seriously limited because of the proximity to Chatham Municipal Airport.
Cape Wind's project has been rocky, with a vocal opposition expressing concerns about the effect off-shore wind turbines would have on fish and bird populations, tourism and property values and fighting the project in court. It is also the first proposed off-shore wind project in the country, raising many questions about the permitting process. But whether the situation in Massachusetts will affect Bluewater Wind's project remains to be seen. "I think it's too early to tell whether it helps or hurts, but any momentum will support additional off-shore wind projects," said Jim Lanard, a spokesman for Bluewater Wind. "We do not expect to run into the major hurdles that Cape Wind has experienced, and therefore predict that our approval process will be considerably shorter than theirs."
FAIRHAVEN - While the developer that wants to erect two wind turbines on town land is offering free bus trips to see operating turbines in Hull, members of the WindWise Fairhaven group questioning the project say they are paying for a noise study. WindWise member Kenneth Pottell made the revelation last night as the Board of Selectmen discussed the issue in the wake of a wind power forum last week. "It's really important that the town does it right," Mr. Pottell said. "We're not asking for something other towns haven't done."
A week after receiving a blessing from Massachusetts environmental regulators, the long-delayed wind farm proposed off Cape Cod has been dealt an apparent setback by the federal agency that will make the final decision on the controversial project. The Minerals Management Service, which had been scheduled to deliver a draft environmental report that would signal its intentions for the project this month, said the report is "taking longer than expected" and will not be ready before late summer.
The federal agency overseeing the Cape Wind project announced last evening that it has pushed back the release of its highly anticipated environmental review from late April to "late summer." The delay means a final decision on the proposed wind farm, which would comprise 130 turbines over a 25-square-mile area of Nantucket Sound, will be pushed from April 2008 to the fall of 2008.
When the state's top environmental official signed off on the Cape Wind project last week, attention shifted to Washington, where a pivotal federal review is due later this month. But the plan to build 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound still faces a significant local hurdle: a review by the Cape Cod Commission, Barnstable County's regional planning agency. Opponents of the turbines say the commission, known for its tough-minded approach to large development projects, could prove a serious obstacle to the project - and possibly even kill it.
FAIRHAVEN - Residents speaking at a forum on wind power last night made a lot of noise about what kind of sound two proposed Little Bay wind turbines would produce. During a sometimes chaotic meeting in a standing-room only hall, some wanted to know why a specific wind study has not been done on the project and why turbines would be erected closer to homes than what is recommended in other studies. "We have done the studies that the town asked us to do," said Nils Boldgen of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, which has worked with the town on the project. "A noise study could be done." Officials also said the sound requirements would have to meet levels determined by the town's bylaw: 60 decibels at 600 feet.
FAIRHAVEN — The town will hold a public forum on the proposed wind project near Little Bay on Wednesday night at 7 at Town Hall. Developer James Sweeney, representatives from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, representatives from the company financing the project and town officials are expected to attend the event. The session will include a presentation and a question and answer period. CCI Energy proposes to erect two turbines on rented town land near Little Bay that would provide free electricity to the town. The company is seeking approval for the land lease at Town Meeting this spring. The recently formed WindWise Fairhaven group has raised several questions about the project and has called on the town to erect its own turbines and explore other locations.
MATTAPOISETT - There will be no wind turbine off Brandt Island Road, due to the Mattapoisett Wind Power Committee's decision that it would not be economically viable. The committee voted last week to not pursue a feasibility analysis for a turbine because data from the meteorological tower in the area indicated it would require two turbines in order to generate enough electricity to break even. "It does not make economic sense to pursue that," said Selectman Jordan C. Collyer, who is also a wind power committee member. "We don't have room there for two turbines anyway. It just wasn't going to be worth the effort."
The state's top environmental official has signed off on the Cape Wind project, delivering a significant victory to supporters of the proposal to build 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound. Ian Bowles, the secretary of Environmental Affairs, announced yesterday that the "final state environmental impact report" filed by Cape Wind "adequately and properly complies" with state environmental guidelines. Cape Wind also needs federal approval for the project, which would place off-white turbines, standing as high as 440 feet, on 25 square miles of the Sound. Although the turbines would be placed in federal waters, the transmission lines would run through state waters to the shore, giving state and local agencies some jurisdiction over the project. Bowles' decision clears the way for the company to seek state and local permits.
The controversial wind farm proposed off the shores of the Cape and Islands won state environmental approval today, setting the stage for the project's developer to seek state permits. Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles signed a certificate finding that the Cape Wind project complies with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act. Bowles said the environmental benefits of the project - which would put 130 wind turbines across 25 square miles in Nantucket Sound - would offset any environmental damage.