ESSEX – Last night, the second session of this year’s Town Meeting approved a bylaw governing windmills, as voters continued to make their way through a hefty 43-article warrant.
The first session of the meeting approved the town’s $5 million operating budget, a $5.7 million assessment to fund the Manchester Essex Regional School District budget, and the search for a planner to draw new lot lines for town-owned land on Conomo Point.
Voters last night established guidelines and restrictions for the installation of wind turbines. The article was approved by a two-thirds majority voice vote.
The bylaw will allow building-mounted units that do not increase the height of a building by more than 20 percent, but require those looking to build free-standing structures to obtain a special permit from the Planning Board.
All windmills will be less than 150 feet in height and, in an effort to limit wind farms, only one turbine will be allowed per acre of land. The bylaw also includes color, noise and setback requirements for wind power units.
The Planning Board drafted the bylaw to give it some control over the kind of wind power projects built in town, while encouraging small units and noncommercial projects.
The law was amended slightly on the meeting floor to not require a turbine that exceeds noise limits at the nearest lot line to be dismantled, if the owner of the neighboring lot agrees it can remain.
At press time last night, Town Meeting had to take up several other zoning proposals, including one that would limit commercial development on John Wise Avenue, by creating a Residential-Agricultural Overlay District.
Approval of the overlay district would mean new construction on John Wise Avenue – from Western Avenue to the Ipswich line – would be allowed only if it is for farm or residential use.
It was also unclear if Town Meeting would continue last night until the warrant was finished or adjourn and continue another night.
By Patrick Anderson
7 May 2008
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