FRAMINGHAM – Town Meeting last night temporarily shot down a bylaw that would have set up guidelines for wind turbines, with critics saying the measure was inflexible and incomprehensible.
Meeting members referred the proposed bylaw back to a committee that will include two members of the Planning Board, two members of the Standing Committee on Planning and Zoning, two members of the Greener Framingham Committee, and one member from the Board of Selectmen.
That task force is to report back to fall Town Meeting with its recommendations, said Town Moderator Ed Noonan at the conclusion of the Town Meeting session.
The town does not have a wind turbine bylaw.
Sponsors Yaakov Cohn and Tom O’Neil had hoped their proposal would set the guidelines for installing such structures.
The initiative accounts for turbine height, noise, blade glint and shadow flicker. Blade glint is the sun’s reflection off the turbine’s rotor and shadow flicker is a strobe-like effect from the blades.
Several meeting members thought the proposal was too strict and would essentially make it impossible for anyone to build a wind turbine in town.
“This turbine bylaw goes too far,” said Dawn Harkness, Town Meeting member and Greener Framingham Committee chairwoman.
“Does anybody believe that anything would qualify under this bylaw?” asked Town Meeting member Richard Weader.
In drawing up the measure, Cohn said he researched wind turbine problems in Maine and Wisconsin.
“I have not tried to exclude anyone,” he said in response to Weader’s query.
Selectman Dennis Giombetti thought the measure did little to encourage alternative energy as a viable resource.
Specifically, Giombetti noted the proposal only allowed for turbines to be erected in manufacturing zones – a distinction that would not allow the town to build a turbine to generate power for a school or town building, as they are not located in such areas.
“This article before you will take a big step backward,” said Giombetti.
That was not the intent of the article, according to O’Neil. He made reference to a Zoning Board of Appeals decision that allowed Staples to build a test turbine tower earlier this year in his defense of the proposal.
“We are not trying to prevent Staples or anyone else from installing wind turbines,” he said.
Tom Mahoney, Planning Board member, said the wording of the bylaw was confusing.
“And if I can’t understand it, how can anyone else be expected to?” asked Mahoney, an engineer by trade. “It has to be pared down to where it’s understandable. It has the potential to be a great bylaw.”
By Dan McDonald/Daily News staff
7 May 2008
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