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One approval down and one to go for Fairhaven wind project

The Fairhaven wind project is one step closer to the finish line after being approved by the Conservation Commission Tuesday night, but it still needs to get past the Planning Board.

A public hearing on the project was held before the Planning Board Tuesday; after more than two hours of public comment and questions, the board voted to continue the hearing to May 6.

About 20 people attended the hearing. Fourteen of them raised their hands when asked by the chairman if they were opposed to the proposed site of the two turbines.

“No one is saying here that wind turbines are bad,” said Ann DeNardis, a resident who spoke against the project. “What you are saying is this is not the location for wind power in this town.”

CCI Energy is proposing to erect two wind turbines on town-owned land adjacent to the waste treatment plant on Arsene Street.

The wind project was approved by Town Meeting voters last May. The selectmen later voted to sign a 25-year lease with CCI to install the two 397-foot turbines.

The Conservation Commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the project after it held its own extensive public hearing. There will be some conditions on the approval, but the committee did not finalize those Tuesday.

Sparks flew during the meeting as several residents expressed concerns on topics ranging from how the turbines would affect property values in the abutting neighborhoods to whether they would pose a danger to people using the town’s bike path near the proposed sites.

James Sweeney, president of CCI, and two consultants working on the project were present at the meeting and responded to residents’ questions.

They will gather additional information to address the concerns raised that will be presented at the next session of the project’s public hearing on May 6.

Andrew Jones, chairman of the Conservation Commission, urged the board’s members to judge the merits of the projects based on the facts.

“We can’t regulate aesthetics,” he said.

Some of the meeting’s most heated moments came at the very end, when Mr. Sweeney asked if the next hearing date could be scheduled earlier than May 27, the date initially proposed by the Planning Board.

Ms. DeNardis and several other residents at the meeting accused the board of giving special consideration to Mr. Sweeney.

“You’re not running the show,” Raymond Fleurent, the board’s chairman, said in response. “And if I were to vote on this tonight, I would vote for it.”

If the project receives all the necessary approvals, the turbines should be installed by late November, Mr. Sweeney said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon.

Under the terms of CCI’s agreement with Fairhaven, the project must be completed by 2009.

By Charis Anderson
Standard-Times staff writer


23 April 2008