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Turbine proposals on hold until after town meeting

The Eastham Energy Committee Thursday decided it would wait until after May town meeting to seek proposals for the development of up to four wind turbines in North Eastham.

The committee still must resolve issues regarding setbacks, noise and safety that were raised last week by some of the nearly 100 abutters who attended a public hearing on the plan to install turbines on town-owned land near the old Tilcon plant.

It will meet again on Feb. 23 to answer questions from abutters who are opposed to the turbines, and they will then post the questions and answers on the town’s web page.

The planning board, on Feb. 26, will hold the first of two public hearings on a proposed wind turbine-zoning bylaw. Energy committee chairman Brian Eastman said there is nothing on the books to regulate turbine development.

No one from the public was present when Eastman opened Thursday’s meeting, in stark contrast to last week, when many townspeople showed up to voice their fears and concerns about the project.

Eastman told his fellow committee members Gwen Pelletier and Joe Mistretta, who was not present but who participated by conference call, that he’d received a threatening phone call following last week’s meeting. He could not hear the name of the man who called him.

“He knew who my family was and he said he knew where I lived and he was going to “˜take care of things if he had to,'” Eastman said, adding, “It’s starting to look like there are a few people who are not interested in public debate of information, but in venting.” Eastman said he did not call the police about the implied threat.
But on the advice of Mistretta and Pelletier, he agreed that in the future, if any committee members receive such calls or threats by mail, the police would be notified. “It’s probably not anything to be worried about but I think we should err on the side of caution,” Mistretta said.

Paul Lothrop, chairman of the board of health, who provided the committee with a stack of papers detailing health and safety concerns at last week’s meeting, was the first member of the public to attend Thursday’s meeting. Two women and a child then joined him.

After confirming this was the energy committee, one of the women, Tiffany Fields, said, “Get ready guys, you got to fight!”

Pelletier seemed surprised. “You’re not attacking us?” she asked Fields “No,” Field said.

“It’s nice to know you identified yourself as friendly,” Pelletier said.

But then Fields set her straight.

“I am friendly, ” Fields said. “I’m all for wind energy, the whole package deal, but not in a residential area. I’m terribly disturbed about this whole thing right in my neighborhood.”

Fields left after learning that the committee was not taking input at this meeting, but would respond soon to the issues raised by the abutters.

Pelletier said that she prepared packets for all committee members of the materials they received from abutters last week, but has not had a chance yet to study them. Nor have the other committee members.

Eastman said it appeared a lot of what was said dealt with personal concerns “rather than new information.”

But the committee agreed there are some issues it will have to look more closely at, with the help of a representative from Black and Veatch, its consulting engineers.

“We have to sort out, from comments made and materials received, which ones are opinion, and which ones come from studies,” Pelletier said.

Eastman said the committee at its Feb. 23 meeting would have more information about its planned bus trip to Hull, set for April 7. Hull has two wind turbines.

By Marilyn Miller
The Cape Codder


16 February 2007