FAIRHAVEN — Changes to the town bylaw on wind turbines — involving the height and setbacks — will be proposed at a public hearing scheduled by the Planning Board on Tuesday, April 3.
Chairman Wayne Hayward pushed for the hearing Tuesday, saying the town is in danger of having developers build turbines too close to private residences under the current bylaw.
“In my opinion, this town should not go to sleep,” Mr. Hayward said. He told fellow board members he personally knows of developers who would like to acquire land and build industrial-sized wind turbines.
Mr. Hayward said his decision would not affect the turbines Fairhaven Wind LLC is building on town-owned land near the Board of Public Works.
Under the current bylaw, turbines are allowed at a maximum height of 350 feet from the natural grade to the top of the hub where the rotor attaches. When the blades are attached, the maximum height is 525 feet, Mr. Hayward said.
The town bylaw allows the turbines to be set back a distance equal to the overall height, or 525 feet at the maximum height. They also have to be at least 100 feet from any property line.
Mr. Hayward said they could consider doubling or tripling that distance and could reduce the maximum height allowed.
William Roth, the town’s planning director and head of economic development, questioned whether the board is required to get permission to hold the hearing from the Board of Selectmen. He said under state law, selectmen would have 14 days to respond.
Mr. Hayward said the board hasn’t followed that practice in the past. He said time is of the essence because of the upcoming annual Town Meeting in early May.
Rene Fleurent Jr. said he wanted more time to gather information before holding a hearing. But in the end the board voted unanimously to hold the public hearing.
Mr. Hayward mentioned the Atlas Tack property, West Island, East Fairhaven and the land fill as the types of locations where a developer might want to build an industrial wind turbine. He said they don’t need to be built in proximity to high tension power lines.
Members of Windwise who attended expressed appreciation for the board’s actions and offered to provide information.
Mr. Hayward resisted broadening the scope to include noise or the flicker effect, however, saying they didn’t have time to research them and that simple amendments to the existing bylaw would be easier to pass at Town Meeting.
“I’m not against them,” Mr. Hayward said, “if we can set them back properly.”