FITCHBURG– Putting wind turbines in a city that claims to be the second-hilliest in the country after San Francisco seems to make good sense. At least according to City Councilor Jesus M. “Jay” Cruz.
Mr. Cruz submitted a proposal to the Planning Board last week asking members to open a way for windmill farms to be built in the city.
“It just starts the process,” Mr. Cruz said. “If a developer wanted to come in later, we would have a way to make it happen.”
In 2004, developer William Hubbard, of the Townsend-based Applied Wind Technology, tried to put a 120-foot wind-testing tower off Caswell Road to measure the potential for wind power in the area. Mr. Hubbard’s project was blocked because the area is zoned rural residential and zoning laws limit a structure in such a zone to 36 feet high.
He argued that the electricity produced from several 750-kilowatt turbines would be enough to power 4,400 homes a year. And excess power could be sold to other municipalities.
Steven B. Dipace, a real estate lawyer who represented residents in the Caswell Road area in 2004, said the neighborhood was concerned about some issues.
“Height, the number of windmills, the ice fragments coming off the windmill blades – these concerned them,” Mr. Dipace said.
Personally, as a Fitchburg resident, he said, he thinks the proposal is worth pursuing.
“With all of the hills, it is amazing we have not had a successful windmill farm ongoing,” he said.
Janet Morrison, executive director of the North County Land Trust, said she wouldn’t reject the proposal outright.
“It’s a question of where (the windmills) will go,” Ms. Morrison said. “We would need specifics.”
Mr. Hubbard said he is happy the city is re-examining the subject.
“It’s a great idea to give developers a pathway,” Mr. Hubbard said. “Because of where windmills must be located, there are concerns to the general public. But at some point, you have to find a balance between visual issues and environmental mitigation of pollution.”
He said he supports any process that allows communities to speak and decide for themselves.
“Open discussion is always positive,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for the community to come together.”
Mayor Dan H. Mylott, who was opposed to the 2004 windmill proposal, said any new examination of the subject would have to be well thought out.
“It is difficult to put anything in a rural residential area,” he said. “The residents have to have a say.”
By M. Elizabeth Roman
Telegram & Gazette Staff
13 March 2007
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