FAIRHAVEN – The state Department of Environmental Protection has upheld the Conservation Commission’s approval of a two-turbine wind project.
On July 2, the department issued a superseding order of conditions affirming the original order of conditions approved by the town’s Conservation Commission.
In the cover letter for its decision, the department said, “In the Department’s opinion, the project as proposed and conditioned herein adequately protects the interests of the Wetlands Protection Act.”
An appeal of the Conservation Commission decision was filed two months ago by 14 town residents. In their appeal, the group questioned the accuracy of the wetlands delineation done by developer CCI Energy.
“We are disappointed with the opinion of the DEP representative,” Fairhaven resident Ann DeNardis, who represented the appellants, said last week.
“We felt that the wetlands were being infringed upon by the development, and particularly the excavation for the footings of the turbines would require entry into the wetlands area.”
Town officials said they were pleased with the state’s decision.
“I think that from our original order that we adequately protected the resources in the town,” said Andrew Jones, chairman of the Conservation Commission.
The appellants had until Thursday to appeal the decision; as of 2 p.m., they had not yet reached a decision on what to do, according to an e-mail from Ms. DeNardis.
She also represents a group of residents who have filed a civil suit against the town, seeking to have the Planning Board’s approval of the project overturned.
The suit, which was filed in Bristol County Superior Court on June 4, is still in its early stages.
According to tracking deadlines listed online at the state’s Trial Court Information Center, the case must be resolved by March 26, 2010.
Developer James Sweeney would not comment on the suit in detail but said the wind project will proceed.
“We’re getting the foundation designed as we speak,” he said. “We’re still spending money on the project as though we had the approval.”
Appeals filed by the project’s opponents have not caused substantial delays, he said. The major potential for delay lies in getting turbines.
Mr. Sweeney had secured for the project two turbines owned by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. However, given the possible delays the Fairhaven project is facing, the collaborative is still in discussions with other parties that have expressed interest in the turbines, according to Nils Bolgen, program manager of MTC’s Clean Energy program.
If CCI Energy loses the turbines owned by MTC, it will purchase turbines made by another manufacturer, Mr. Sweeney said.
“We do have two backup turbines that we could get at any time,” he said. “The delay would have been losing the turbines, but we have that covered now. We paid for an option to have that covered.”
By Charis Anderson
Standard-Times staff writer
18 July 2008
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