The recent Planning Board vote against recommending a citizens petition (Article 29) permitting the erection of wind turbines in Harvard was a correct decision. It was clear that the board was not against wind turbines, but that any bylaw be developed with consideration to existing bylaws, abutters rights, impact on the town and strike a balance between a property owner’s rights and all other parties. The Planning Board is in the best position to accomplish this after thorough research, input from the entire community and consistency with our current bylaws.
There are many aspects of the petitioner’s proposal that should be carefully considered before voting. The bylaw as proposed will allow a wind turbine to be erected in any residential area in town, i.e. the town center, historic district, etc., as a matter of right without input from abutters or other interested parties. It will allow for the erection of a meteorological tower for a period of up to four years with no restrictions on height. It will also allow wireless communication devices to be added to the wind turbine tower as a matter of right, in direct conflict with the town’s “cell tower” bylaw.
The bylaw limits tower height to 140 feet. However, given the documented wind conditions in Harvard, almost all locations in Harvard require a tower height of 167 feet or more. This is greater that the limits on cell towers, and under the bylaw all restrictions can be waived.
In short, the bylaw has not been well thought out or written to the professional standards of our existing bylaws.
Although I recommend a vote against the petition, I also encourage everyone to voice an opinion at the meeting.
JOSEPH R. SUDOL, PE
28 March 2008
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