[SAVOY, Mass.] I am writing this article in response to a deluge of phone calls to my home and the Town Clerk’s office concerning a report in the North Adams Transcript.
On Wednesday, January 3rd, residents will be asked to consider accepting or rejecting a bylaw that addresses the wind tower project on West Hill. This is the first of two bylaws that have been submitted to the town for approval by the voters. Townspeople are understandably confused with this two bylaw situation and have been given the additional burden of trying to sort the misinformation from the facts. On December 19th, an article appeared in the Transcript stating that the developer of the wind power project, Minuteman Wind, LLC, had offered the town $220,000 annually “in the form of a payment in lieu of taxes if its proposed wind farm is approved for a special permit by the Zoning Board of Appeals.” This information is not accurate.
A letter from Donald S. McCauley, President of Minuteman Wind LLC, dated December 11, 2007, clearly states…..”we must caution the Board that these are estimates and subject to change as Minuteman proceeds into more detailed project analysis.” As Town Clerk and keeper of the town records, I can clearly state that there has been no document entered into the town records, no definitive agreement, no contract signed by officials, and, (to my knowledge), not a handshake, or a promise, that any amount of money has been agreed upon. And, again, as Town Clerk, I am concerned that those residents …”celebrating the offer as an answer to daunting financial problems.” , and others who read the article in the Transcript, will make their decision based on this erroneous information. Copies of the Minuteman letter are available at the Town Office as well as both bylaws. I urge all residents to know what they are voting for.
Two bylaws are to be voted on by the town. The first, which will go before the voters on January 3rd, was influenced by a state-designed outline for a bylaw addressing wind tower projects within the Commonwealth. It is a simple document that is easy to understand and states clearly its objectives. This proposal was submitted by Mr. Harold “Butch” Malloy, owner of the land the turbines will be built on, and forty-three registered voters who also signed the document.
The second bylaw is being proposed by the Savoy Planning Board. This document has been three years in the works and permits construction of wind facilities town wide, as does the “Malloy” bylaw, but restricts certain aspects of a project that would not comply with the concerns of the residents. This bylaw was developed as a result from the input of resident comments, neighboring town input, advice from the Attorney General’s office, Town Council, and visits to Planning Boards in other communities that have already experienced wind farms.
The difference in the bylaws rests mostly with the height of the towers. In the “Malloy” version, 425 feet is proposed as acceptable to the area landscape. The Savoy Planning Board suggests 350 feet is the height most reasonable to fit the size of the community and surrounding areas. Other areas of comparison between the two bylaws concern future projects, property setback, emergency services, flicker and shadow effects, abandonment, balloon visualization (pre-construction), and abandonment. The Planning Board has been handing out informational sheets on their proposed bylaw that point out the differences between the two laws for the convenience of the residents. This information is also available at the Town Office.
Residents should understand the importance of knowing what they are voting on. The results of this issue will impact the town of Savoy and its residents today and for generations to come. It should not be taken lightly, nor should the responsibility of this decision be left to others. Get the facts. Know the substance of each of these bylaws. Vote the one that you feel would best serve you and the community in general.
21 December 2007
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