HANCOCK – For the second consecutive year, voters at the annual town meeting have rejected a proposal that would limit wind turbines.
After failing to approve a measure that prohibited the height of telecommunication or electricity generating towers from being no higher than 120 feet last year, voters last night rejected a proposal that set the height limit at 150 feet.
The article’s failure is a victory for proponents of wind turbines in the town’s ongoing debate over the proposed Berkshire Wind project that would place turbines on Brodie Mountain. It was the only one of the 23 articles on the warrant that didn’t pass. A total of 202 of the town’s 509 registered voters (39.7 percent) attended the annual town meeting, which took place at Hancock Central School.
Residents cast 67 votes in favor of the zoning amendment last night and 59 against, but the measure failed because it required a two-thirds majority for approval. The voting was done by secret ballot. The measure also failed to achieve a two-thirds majority last year when 72 votes were cast in favor and 69 were opposed.
Many of those in attendance left after the vote on the towers was announced
Planning Board chairwoman Joan Burdick told those in attendance that the board increased a limit on the tower height to 150 feet in February in response to citizens’ suggesting following a hearing on the bylaw. Reading from a report, Burdick urged town residents before the vote to support the limit.
“There is concern for the need to protect our rural character,” she said. “We hope you will consider the end results of towers 30 or 40 years from now.
“People in Hancock usually stick together,” she said. “We should do this now.”
During discussion, some people agreed with Burdick that passage of the amendment would enable the town to regulate wind power, while others expressed frustration that the measure had been brought before voters so many times.
“I thought we had this all settled a year ago,” one man said. “It keeps coming back.”
“Amen,” another man responded.
Resident John Seakwood said he lives in Hancock because of the town’s rural character and doesn’t want to see wind turbines on a mountaintop. But he said passage of the amended bylaw would give the town too much power to regulate a natural resource that could benefit residents.
“How do you explain to your grandchildren saying no to a non-pollutable resource,” Seakwood said.
Sporadic applause broke out after his comments.
By unanimous vote, the town also approved a $1.1 million appropriation for school operating expenses, the largest item on the warrant. Also approved were 2.5 percent raises in yearly compensation for a variety of elected officials and other town personnel.
A measure establishing a bylaw that would give the town tax collector additional measures to obtain funds from delinquent tax payers also passed unanimously, as did an article to $30,000 in surplus revenue into a fund established to purchase new fire trucks.
By Tony Dobrowolski
Berkshire Eagle Staff
12 May 2007
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding