Mayoral candidates James Shanley and Donna Holaday were open and honest when asked during a debate last week if the city should allow for more wind turbines to go up in Newburyport.
“We blew it; we really blew it as a city on this,” Holaday said. Saying city officials were “excited” at the chance to move forward and see alternative energy resources in the city when faced with the proposal by Mark Richey Woodworking, Holaday admitted they didn’t have the research and data they needed to properly site it.
“No one anticipated the impact that’s happening,” Holaday said, referring to the complaints by the Back Bay neighborhood of noise and flicker.
While other sites around the city have been suggested for future turbines, such as Common Pasture, Holaday said more research will be needed to gauge the impact on wildlife, but that no turbines can ever go up near residents again and mitigation has to be included in the revised wind turbine ordinance.
Shanley called the Richey turbine “a learning moment” for the city.
“No one did anticipate the level of the effects,” Shanley said.
But the city also has a responsibility to reduce its own impact on the environment, he added, noting that studies show birds will avoid hitting a turbine.
Shanley said city officials must look more closely at distances and the number of residents that receive notification about a turbine going up in an area near them. The current 300-foot distance, required for proposed projects before the city’s zoning and planning boards, is “inadequate” for something as large as a wind turbine, Shanley said.
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