September 18, 2006

Yarmouth to revisit wind power bylaw

By Patrick Cassidy, Staff Writer

A wind facilities zoning bylaw was sent back to the drawing board after disagreement at Yarmouth’s special town meeting over what types of properties it could affect.

”It shows a broader base of support and interest from Yarmouth citizens in helping to craft the bylaw,” Brian Braginton-Smith, chairman of the Yarmouth energy committee, said Friday.

Although the intent of the bylaw was to address municipal properties, a minimum 10-acre requirement restricted small-property owners, according to detractors of the regulation.

”You made a mistake,” Billy Snowden of Hawk’s Wing Farm in Yarmouthport said. ”This bylaw is a threat to every home­owner and every small business.”

Anticipating a vote on the wind facility bylaw, Snowden applied for a building permit last week to erect a wind turbine on his family’s 4-acre farm.

The bylaw was not intended to restrict residential and small commercial turbines, Braginton-Smith said.

Committee members worked with the planning board and looked at bylaws in Fairhaven, Harwich and Orleans. They were also wary of possible disputes like the one in Sandwich over residential wind turbines and ”wanted to be more restrictive rather than opening the floodgates,” Braginton-Smith said.

Sections of the bylaw addressed height restrictions, setbacks and noise generated by the turbines. It also addressed flicker, the visual effect of the moving turbine blades on the light from the sun.

Despite a nod toward the hard work of the energy committee, Snowden moved to indefinitely postpone a vote on the bylaw article.

Selectman Jerome Sullivan tried to save the article by moving to narrow its effect to municipally owned properties but withdrew his amendment when other questions were raised.

In place of an indefinite postponement, voters agreed to refer the article back to the town’s energy committee for further study. This guarantees the bylaw or a variation of it will return to annual town meeting in the spring.

The energy committee will work with the planning board to reshape a bylaw for commercial and residential uses, Braginton-Smith said.

A public hearing on the topic will be scheduled before the end of the year, he said. ”Folks want to see both of them come together as an integrated package.”

The Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District’s property and the town’s waste treatment facility have been discussed as possible locations for wind turbines.

Patrick Cassidy can be reached at

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