FRAMINGHAM – For weeks, Yaakov Cohn wrestled with the ramifications of alternative energy.
His wind turbine research found him delving into German court cases and poring over studies from Wisconsin.
Last night, the fruits of those labors were presented to the Planning Board in the form of a 10-page proposal that would establish a wind turbine bylaw. The measure sets guidelines for turbine height, noise, and blade glint, or shadows.
However, in its current form, the measure may not draw the board’s endorsement or pass at Town Meeting. Presently, it is Article 11 on the Town Meeting warrant.
The board tabled the item. An ad hoc wind turbine committee will continue to discuss the proposal.
No town law exists that addresses wind turbines, according to Tom O’Neil, who serves with Cohn on the Standing Committee on Planning and Zoning.
A zoning use not spelled out is prohibited, said O’Neil, suggesting that wind turbines are not presently allowed.
Other town officials have challenged such thinking.
In January, when the Zoning Board of Appeals heard a proposal for a wind turbine, board member Steve Meltzer said “If something is not prohibited, that means it’s allowed, not the other way around.”
Ultimately the ZBA gave the go-ahead to a test wind turbine tower which has yet to be erected, said O’Neil.
Staples Inc., whose corporate headquarters is in Framingham, hopes to determine if building a permanent tower would be worthwhile. The company also hopes, that in the interim, the town establishes a bylaw, said O’Neil.
“We’re not aiming to destroy Staples,” said O’Neil last night.
Cohn and O’Neil’s measure appears to be a work-in-progress.
The ad hoc wind turbine bylaw committee, consisting of two members of the board, two members of the standing committee, and two members of Greener Framingham Committee, will examine the idea at its next meeting, scheduled for April 16.
Then, the committee may tweak the proposal.
O’Neil said a provision calling for the distance between a turbine tower and property line to be at least 12 times the diameter of the rotor, or blade, may need to change to make turbines a reality. With such large distance requirements, turbine construction might be possible only in places with a lot of land, he said.
“We may modify it,” said O’Neil. “We could theoretically withdraw it.”
Dawn Harkness, a member of Greener Framingham Committee, said the town “should not be working overtime” to block alternative energy initiatives.
Planning Board member Tom Mahoney said the proposal may not be ready until fall Town Meeting.
In other business, the Planning Board reshuffled its hierarchy.
Carol Spack was appointed board chairwoman by a 3-2 vote. Spack, Andrea Carr-Evans, and Christine Long voted in favor, while Tom Mahoney, who had served as board chairman before last night, and Sue Bernstein voted against.
Carr-Evans was appointed vice chairwoman, and Bernstein was appointed clerk.
11 April 2008
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