DEDHAM – The chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission wants to appeal a Zoning Board of Appeals’ ruling that apparently has killed the town’s plan to install a wind turbine at Fairbanks Park.
On Thursday the board denied a height variance sought by the town for the planned 90-foot turbine intended to power lights at the park. The board voted 3-2 in support of the variance, but regulations require four favorable votes for approval.
Donald Reisner, who proposed the turbine idea to offset the estimated $12,000 annual cost of lighting the Rustcraft Road ball field, said Friday he was examining his options to challenge the ruling.
“I was unhappy with the two members who voted against it. In their closing statement they stated they did not think noise and appearance were a problem,” Reisner said.
During hearings on the windmill plan, which began in May, residents living near Fairbanks Park called for the board to reject it out of concerns it would create noise and a visual disturbance.
The town presented studies saying the nearest houses to the planned location of the turbine, around 700 feet away, would not be able to hear it.
After Thursday’s hearing, Zoning Board Chairman John Kearney, who voted against approval of the variance, said flaws in the town’s plan and resident concerns were the main reasons to deny it.
“Basically, neighborhood opposition was the reason for voting against,” Kearney said. “Also I did not think it was a well-thought-out proposal with enough economic benefit for the town.”
The other board member to vote against the variance, Robert Smith, said he supported the town’s desire to use wind power, but thought Fairbanks Park was not the best location for the structure.
“I’m all for the concept. I just don’t think they found the right spot,” Smith said. “Maybe they can put it somewhere else, but not there.”
Attempts to reach Kearney and Smith Friday after Reisner spoke to the Daily Transcript were unsuccessful.
Board member Gregory Jacobsen, who voted for the turbine, said he was disappointed the town’s efforts to utilize wind power had suffered a setback.
“I think it is time for Dedham to start thinking about renewable energy,” Jacobsen said. “It all comes back to the fact that nobody wants it in their backyard.”
Town Meeting voters in April approved $57,000 toward the $60,000 estimated cost of purchasing and installing the turbine. The town expected to get $42,000 in state renewable energy grants for the project and save around $1,900 each year in energy costs.
Town Administrator William Keegan has said the Fairbanks Park wind turbine could be just the beginning of efforts by the town to take advantage of wind power.
Reisner said he did not currently have any plans to come up with a new windmill plan or a new location for the existing plan.
“We have to move forward here,” Reisner said. “My concern is that if we try to put one somewhere else, we will face the same problems.”
By Patrick Anderson/Daily News staff
8 October 2007
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