BOURNE — Vote yes? Vote no?
Special Town Meeting voters will gather tonight at Beth Bourne Auditorium to decide if they want to amend the wind-conversion systems zoning bylaw that guides and governs the siting of turbines in town.
Concerned Citizens for Responsible Energy urge a yes vote. New Generation Wind, with a seven-turbine proposal before the Cape Cod Commission, want a no vote; that is, they want the Bourne turbine bylaw left as is because its wind-farm proposal is headed toward town review as well.
The conflict has been played out in print and on radio, with signs and during two planning board hearings in New Generation; and two prior commission hearings.
The Concerned Citizens amended bylaw petition makes it to town meeting tonight based on last Friday afternoon’s hearings in which the elected planning board knew it had received enough information to close the session but not enough to either accept or reject the petition.
Guided by Town Counsel Robert Troy, the planners authorized board chairman Chris Farrell to deliver a report to town meeting. This puts the issue in Moderator Robert Parady’s domain.
Parady has served notice he will accept three Concerned Citizens revisions to their petition, saying they do not significantly change the scope and intent of the original petition legally advertised for public consumption. But Parady has also indicated he is not comfortable with a wholesale change in the petition if this means town meeting rewrites a zoning bylaw.
To amend the bylaw, Concerned Citizens must secure a two-thirds majority vote. They say common sense must come to play; that is, they argue, 495-foot turbines such as those planned by New Generation should not be situated next to residential areas.
Town Planner Coreen Moore says the citizen petition is technically flawed and that as drafted going into tonight it would severely limit placement of smaller community-grade turbines in Bourne and ban industrial-grade structures anywhere in town; except at the landfill and Massachusetts Military Reservation.
The turbine bylaw fight has cast shadows over the planning board to an extent that the planners were forced to sidestep a decision on the citizen petition. Now town meeting voters may decide to rewrite the bylaw – or not.
Should voters side with Concerned Citizens for the direct benefit of neighborhoods off Scenic Highway and Route 25; and not sacrifice safety and well-being there? Or should voters consider the greater community benefit of harnessing wind?
Selectmen have weighed in against New Generation, saying its turbines should not be allowed next to neighborhoods.
What happens with tonight’s vote ultimately could end up before a Superior Court judge and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Parady said he is well aware that whatever the vote it, it could be nixed at both levels.
The planning board agrees the issue deserves further review; especially as it relates to industrial grade turbines.