Town meeting voters Monday shot down a proposal to study the feasibility of creating a town-owned wind farm.
Although wind power is an environmentally-friendly energy source and could potentially generate considerable revenue for the town, voters decided that putting a wind farm on the land near the Almeida Farm on Interstate 195 could pose a danger to the wetlands on the 22-acre parcel.
John Ferreira, who donated the land to the town for conservation use, spoke against the proposed wind farm.
“The land is 100 percent wetland,” he said. “I think a little more research should be done with the conservation commission. I am 100 percent sure the town cannot build on this land.”
Proponents of the wind farm said there is a considerable amount of dry land on the 22-acre plot.
Town Executive Secretary David Marciello spoke in favor of the wind farm feasibility study. He said the location is the only one in Rehoboth that could potentially support a wind farm, based on wind mapping and computer models.
The proposal would have authorized the town to spend $25,000 to erect a meteorological tower to gather detailed information on the wind speeds at the location.
“There are exemptions,” Marciello said. “Just because something’s a wetland doesn’t mean you can’t build on it. It’s just another hoop you have to go through.”
Ken Nickerson, a consultant with Plymouth-based Alternate Energy, spoke in favor of the feasibility study and the proposed location, echoing many of Marciello’s remarks. The article was also endorsed by the Finance Committee and the Board of Selectmen.
“The potential benefit to the town is free electricity along with additional revenue,” Finance Committee member Sue Pimental said.
“We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars a year,” Marciello said.
Many residents spoke against the proposal.
“You cannot build in the state of Massachusetts on wetlands,” said Ken Abram, a former Conservation Commission member.
In other business, the town narrowly defeated a measure that would allocate $38,900 to Nike Park. Former State Rep. Philip Travis, a town resident, said he was on the Board of Selectmen in 1975 when the state gave the park to the town.
“That’s 32 years ago, and we haven’t spent any further money on it,” he said, adding that Rehoboth lacks public recreation lands.
The proposal got 101 votes in favor, and 58 votes against, but since it was slated to be funded from the town stabilization account, a two-thirds majority vote was required. That mark was narrowly missed.
In other news, the town approved a $50,000 allocation to the Rehoboth Agricultural and Natural Resources Preservation Trust Fund.
By Gerry Tuoti, Staff Writer
30 April 2007
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