Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Massachusetts
SWANSEA - When school committee members were given the opportunity to bring up issues of concern to them at a meeting earlier this month, Ellen Furtado had a polite reminder for Superintendent of Schools Stephan Flanagan. "Steve, my windmills," Ms. Furtado said. When the committee's next meeting took place Monday night, Mr. Flanagan came prepared to address the issue. What issue? The school department is looking to greatly reduce its electrical costs by employing a wind turbine to power one of its schools.
No sooner had the Planning Board completed its draft of the town’s wind facility bylaws Thursday night, then resident Harold “Butch” Malloy announced his intentions to present his own set of bylaws. But Planning Board members expressed concern that Malloy’s bylaws will be slanted in developer Minuteman Wind’s favor because Malloy owns the 290 acres on West Hill to be used for the proposed five-turbine, 12.5 megawatt project. Malloy only needs the signatures of 10 registered voters to submit his own bylaws, which he plans to do at the Jan. 30 Selectmen’s meeting. Planning Board Chairman Jamie Reinhardt said Minuteman has objected to some of the board’s previous bylaw drafts. He said Minuteman even tried to get the board to sign off on “non-descript” bylaws the company had written. “We reviewed those drafts and discussed them,” Reinhardt said. “Ultimately, we felt they were not in the town’s best interests.”
The town’s first commercial wind turbine “whooshed” closer to reality last week with approval of Country Garden’s West Main Street location by the Site Plan Review Committee. The proposal for a 120-foot high monopole wind tower with a 32-foot rotor diameter leaves only a few legal questions, and a perceived need for general criteria for this and other such future projects, for this one to advance. Richard Lawrence of Cape and Islands Self Reliance Corp. and a professor at Cape Cod Community College, addressed several questions previously posed by site plan agents regarding sale of excess power, a utility plan for the trench and turbine hookup, approval from airport and FAA officials and whether zoning relief might be needed on height.
The fate of the Hoosac Wind Project remains uncertain while both proponents and detractors of the project await a ruling from a state magistrate. It has been eight months since the last hearing at the state Division of Administrative Law Appeals concerning the proposed $40 million, 20-turbine project, which would produce 2,300 megawatts of electricity. Since that time, the project’s owner, PPM Energy of Portland, Ore., has been anxious to find out if it can proceed with construction or will have to change its plans. “We had been expecting a ruling in the fall of 2006,” PPM spokeswoman Jan Johnson said. “There’s no question that we wanted to go ahead sooner.”
Wendie Howland’s plan to construct a 120-foot wind turbine on the highest point of Pocasset encountered rough going with the Bourne Appeals Board Wednesday night, and she withdrew her height-variance request without prejudice. Howland’s neighbors and abutters rallied around her request and her plan to erect a 10-kilowatt structure of galvanized steel on her property off Barlows Landing Road. Appeals board members Robert Gaynor and Judith Riordan said they are alternative energy enthusiasts but also said the Howland project was a much broader than a simple request for a variance of the bylaw restricting structures to 40 feet. The planning board weighed in, saying any approval of the Howland turbine could be precedent-setting and would not be in Bourne’s best interest because Town Meeting in May still has to consider a wind-turbine control bylaw amendment.
Large scale commercial wind power generation suffered a setback in town with a recent study based on Federal Aviation Administration standards limiting the height of turbines in air space on the approach to Chatham Municipal Airport. The study, conducted by Aviations Systems Inc. of Georgia, cites the potential for height restrictions on large wind turbines over much of the town. Barry Worth, chairman of the town’s utilities and energy conservation commission, said this week the report is under study, but it is clear regulations “limit the size and kilowatt ratings to be put up.” The study comes at a time when the board of appeals is scheduled to address a variance request to allow a commercial wind turbine at The Depot, a commercial business located along Depot Street in North Harwich, adjacent to the town of Dennis.
Deep-water wind farms will top the agenda when U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., leads a congressional delegation to Germany this spring. The trip will involve discussions of a variety of energy issues, said Delahunt, chairman of the bipartisan study group that includes current and former members of Congress. But of particular interest to Delahunt, who represents Cape Cod and the Islands, are German renewable energy companies - including one involved in building a test deep-water wind farm off the German coast in the North Sea. Some of the companies in this project ‘’are beginning to talk about a need for American subsidiaries,'’ Delahunt said. ‘’What better place than Massachusetts for this kind of foreign investment? Wind is to the Northeast, what oil is to Saudi Arabia,'’ he said.
We have been asking for a set of state regulations and town by-laws to control the installation of residential and commercial turbines. There was a large fire on the North Shore a few weeks ago in a residential neighborhood in which the news and government agencies all asked how a commercial business could be located in a residential area. The lack of state regulations and town by-laws and enforcement usually lead to tragedy. The state of Massachusetts, along with cities and towns, has got to look at the control of land- based wind turbines.
WESTPORT — Town Meeting voters in May will be asked to allocate more than $100,000 to purchase and construct twin wind turbines behind Town Hall and the police station. The 100-foot towers each would take up the equivalent of about one parking space behind the municipal buildings on Main Road. The turbines are expected to cost $54,000 each, but according to a report from the town’s Alternative Energy Committee would pay for themselves in four years or less. The cost of the turbines could be partially reimbursable with a grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the committee learned. Grants of more than $42,000 per wind turbine are available.
The wind turbine generator study committee has identified three sites in different parts of town as potential sites for a wind turbine. The three sites under consideration for renewable wind energy are the main wastewater treatment facility on Driebeck Way in Brant Rock, the capped landfill off Clay Pit Road and at the site of a new water storage tank off Eames Way. One of the schools may also be named as a possible site after further study. In order for committee members to get a close look at actual wind turbines, they plan to visit the town of Hull’s municipal light plant turbine sites tomorrow (Thursday, Jan. 18) at 1:30 p.m., and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s wind turbine in Buzzards Bay at 1:30 p.m. the next day (Friday, Jan. 19). “They want to be able to observe them and see how they operate,” said David Carriere, an engineer with the Department of Public Works who serves on the study committee. “There’s nothing like getting a close look at the auditory and visual impact.”
SAVOY — Don McCauley, president of Minuteman Wind, said Monday that the company will wait for the Planning Board to establish town bylaws concerning the construction of wind turbines before moving forward with plans to erect five turbines on West Hill. However, if any of the bylaws conflict with requirements for construction, McCauley said, Minuteman Wind would have options. He said requests could be submitted for amendments to the bylaws, and a “reasonable solution” could be worked out with the Planning Board. The Planning Board met last week to record letters sent by residents voicing their concerns about the project. Board members said having the concerns recorded would help them shape the bylaws. The board will meet this Thursday at 7 p.m. at Town Hall to continue work on the bylaws.
It is a big deal, they said. The document that Mr. Novick and Ms. Cary of the Massachusetts Audubon Society had before them on their Friday afternoon hike was the product of a seven-year battle with bureaucracy, new agendas and even a recent threat of massive windmills along beloved parkland. In the last two weeks, Mr. Novick, Ms. Cary and other park and city officials have been scrambling to meet with state officials in order to dismiss the idea of windmills, which would have spoiled the old agreement. The two weeks were filled with drama and emotion over the windmill plans and other proposals for alternative energy. But now, seven years after it was struck, the deal is finally complete, with the final document in Mr. Novick’s hand — a deed completing a land transaction that will assure the preservation of some 30 acres of wooded land near Green Hill Park as parkland or conservation area. It is a victory for local environmentalists and city officials.
Planning Board members Don Finney and Thomas Sadin sat at a table in Town Hall last night with newspaper clippings and letters from residents stacked neatly between them. Their mission? To read and record the letters sent to the board about the its proposed wind turbine bylaws. “We’ve gone through a lot of letters,” Sadin said. “We still have a lot more, but we’re getting there.” The letters and supporting data they’ve been amassing will help them shape the all-important wind turbine bylaws that will directly affect the future of a proposed wind power project that stands to put five 420-foot turbines on West Hill.
SHUTESBURY - The proposed location of the wind turbine that the town would put up as its next renewable-energy project could be complicated by Shutesbury’s communications tower bylaw. Selectmen will meet with the Energy Committee Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall to determine if the turbine can be sited on an open field behind the Town Hall building on Cooleyville Road. The complication, said Town Administrator David Dann, is that officials are unsure whether the tower bylaw, put in place primarily for dealing with potential wireless towers, could scuttle the 120-foot turbine.
To allow, or not to allow five 420-foot wind turbines to be built on West Hill? That’s the question. In 2006, Savoy wind power was the issue that cleaved the town into neat halves: those who support the local project to boost tax revenue and build renewable energy and those who think the turbines will be ugly and a detriment to the environment and property values. Last year’s series of informational town meetings, which were attended by residents and Minuteman Wind, the Waltham-based company that proposed the Savoy project, did little more than exacerbate the feelings of distrust and frustration within the town. For the project to move forward, Savoy must draft a bylaw that outlines the size, lighting and overall appearance of the turbines; in the current draft, the bylaws restrict the height of the turbines to 350 feet, well below Minuteman’s proposed turbine height of 420 feet.
A proposal to build a wind turbine on Town Farm Road was a springboard issue this year, catalyzing any number of other environmental movements in town. But as 2006 ends, the future of the project is in doubt. Last spring’s Town Meeting approval of the proposal was contingent on the town securing federal, zero-interest loans, and that grant application was not approved.
In a letter to Governor-elect Deval Patrick, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound has outlined a five-point energy plan for the state. The first of those five points is the selection of an alternative site for Cape Wind Associates’ proposal to build 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound.
The town could become the first municipality in Massachusetts to provide electrical power to a town hall by way of a wind turbine. A 100-foot tower would take up about one parking space behind Town Hall and pay for itself within four years, according to a presentation before Westport’s Alternative Energy Committee made by Lighthouse Electrical Contracting Inc. of Pembroke. The $54,000 cost of a wind turbine is potentially partially reimbursable with a grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the committee learned. The collaborative is the state’s development agency for renewable energy and the innovation economy, which the organization asserts is responsible for a quarter of the jobs in the state.
With a key battle in Congress behind them, the developers of a proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound are pressing ahead with two other key aspects to getting the project off the ground: raising money and seeking to convince the government that it’s worth building. “To build Cape Wind, we need to be successful at both securing all necessary permits and in raising the capital to finance the project,” said Mark Rodgers, spokesman for Cape Wind Associates. “And we’re working hard at both.” A compromise recently passed by Congress broke a bitter, months-long stalemate on Capitol Hill, removing a major roadblock for Cape Wind’s plans to build a grid of 130 electricity-generating windmills about six miles off Cape Cod. The bill also gives the Coast Guard a stronger say in the wind farm’s fate.
The state’s highest court on Monday upheld a decision permitting construction of transmission lines to bring electricity from the Cape Wind project to shore. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a May 2005 decision by the state Energy Facilities Siting Board that was challenged by a group opposing the Cape Wind project. The high court said the board adopted “an eminently reasonable and practical approach to the uncommon jurisdictional issues presented by the petition” seeking to build a pair of 18-mile-long transmission lines. If it receives needed federal approval, Cape Wind would become the nation’s first offshore wind farm - a unique status that has presented local, state and federal jurisdictional questions during five years of government reviews.