BRIMFIELD – Representatives of Boston-based First Wind fielded questions inside Hitchcock Academy Monday night about the economics, environmental impacts, infrastructure needs and other aspects of the turbines they propose erecting atop West Mountain, while a few dozen opponents of the plan protested with signs outside.
Both sides are expecting their main political battle will come next spring at a Town Meeting when a proposal for a zoning bylaw change that would allow the wind farm to be built will be acted on.
David C. Velez, development manager for the project, said that if the required zone change is enacted, and continued meteorological testing shows the West Mountain ridge to be a good location, other state and municipal permits could be obtained by the end of 2012 and the 10 turbines could be installed and operating eight to 10 months into the following year.
Velez said that based on the scope of the project being planned, First Wind would be paying the town between $140,000 and $170,000 annually for the wind farm and negotiations have started with the selectmen over paying and additional 10 to 20 percent of that amount into a community fund.
He said there would be at least four full-time jobs created for maintenance at the wind farm and a few hundred temporary workers would be needed for the construction and installation.
The selectmen had scheduled a special meeting for 6 p.m. Tuesday to talk with First Wind representatives about payments to cover the town’s research and consulting needs related to the project, but because too large a crowd showed up for the meeting it was postponed until Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the Brimfield Elementary School.
Opponents of the project have formed an organization, No Brimfield Wind, which will have an informational Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. in the lower hall of St. Christopher’s Church.
This group has raised objections about the noise that would come from the turbines in the Dunhamtown-Brimfield Road neighborhood, the change in the scenic view and the potential loss in property values.
Velez will speak about the project Friday during a meeting of the Central Massachusetts South Chamber of Commerce’s community business associated networking and referral group meeting at 7:15 a.m. at Oliver Wight Tavern, Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge.
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