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Wind turbines, farms face votes  

SUTTON— A new zoning bylaw allowing small wind turbines – and a reaffirmation of the town’s commitment to its farming contingent – highlight the fall town meeting warrant Monday night.

Town officials have said the wind turbine bylaw promotes alternative energy use and reduces strain on the power grid. If the bylaw is approved, small wind turbines, defined as having a rated capacity of no more than 20 kilowatts, would be allowed with a special permit in all zoning districts except for the village district.

The turbines in the proposed bylaw would be designed to provide on-site power, and not for selling power to the grid. The turbine cannot be located closer to a property line than the height of the tower. The tower can have a maximum height of 120 feet, and the noise created by the turbine cannot exceed 70 decibels at the nearest property line, according to the bylaw.

The bylaw includes aesthetic requirements. The town would be able to require that an owner paint the turbine or camouflage it to minimize visual impact.

Article 10 will ask the town to approve the Right to Farm bylaw, a restatement of local and state laws protecting farmers. The `bylaw does not expand protections, but it does highlight a dispute resolution process, in which residents who want to complain about the operation of a farm can file a grievance with the Board of Selectmen, the building commissioner or the Board of Health, depending on the nature of the grievance. The complainant is guaranteed a review within 30 days.

The town meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Simonian Center for Early Learning, formerly known as the Early Learning Center, on Boston Road, will feature 12 mostly routine articles. There are street acceptances and prior year bills, and some minor zoning changes.

There are two citizen petition articles. Article 1 concerns automatic sprinkler systems, and Article 2, submitted by Robert Nunnemacher, will ask voters to consider the purchase of a new firetruck to replace the 1977 pumper truck in the Fire Department’s stable.

Town Administrator James Smith said the estimated cost of the truck is $850,000. The warrant article states that the purchase would also require a successful Proposition 2-1/2 debt exclusion vote.

In its recommendations, the Finance and Warrant Advisory Committee voted to recommend the turbine bylaw and the farming bylaw. But it voted to recommend against the firetruck purchase, preferring that capital purchases go through the established process of discussion and prioritization.

Worcester Telegram & Gazette

12 October 2007

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