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.
Meanwhile, the state Division of Energy Resources has recently released an official wind facility bylaw template; Sadin saw the nine-page document for the first time yesterday.
“I wish this was out several years ago,” said town resident Butch Malloy. “This looks pretty streamlined.”
Savoy is the only town in Berkshire County that has not drafted a wind facility bylaw, and along with Savoy, there are two other wind projects in the planning stage in Northern Berkshire County. One calls for 20 turbines on the border of Florida and Monroe, and the other is a 10-turbine project planned for Brodie Mountain in Hancock and New Ashford.
It has been three years of slow progress, and Savoy’s bylaws – which detail everything from the turbines’ decibel levels and lighting to their eventual decommissioning – are almost ready, according to Sadin.
“We’re thinking March is the month we’ll have a final draft,” he said. “The town should be ready to vote in May or June.”
Sadin said the Planning Board has received 20 letters from townspeople, and he said that some opinions expressed were pro-wind power, but the majority were against the project.
“(The residents) are mostly against wind power,” he said. “Overwhelmingly against.”
Preston McClanahan is one such resident; he says his home on Black Brook Road is within one mile of one of the turbines and the sub-audible sound and potential ice-throw from the rotating blades will put him at a health risk.
“Everybody in the town will be at risk,” he said.
McClanahan, like others in town, are also concerned about the visual impact of the mammoth turbines – and what they’ll do to Savoy’s property values.
“If this goes in we’ll have to sell the house, and we’ll lose 30 percent of the equity,” McClanahan said.
Still, looks aren’t everything, and the Savoy wind project detractors are often accused of being superficial by the wind project proponents.
According to the fact sheet supplied by Minuteman Wind, the Waltham-based firm that proposed the project, the West Hill wind farm could produce enough electricity for 3000 households in the area, and that kind of clean energy might mean compromising a view or two.
“I’m an artist, and the visual element is the last issue on my list,” McClanahan said. “The best future for this town lies in its residential landscape.”
A special Planning Board meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 11 at Town Hall.
By Jessica Willis
Berkshire Eagle Staff
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding