BRIMFIELD – Opponents of a proposed wind farm atop West Mountain hope to persuade the selectmen tonight to reject a $30,000 payment for town research about the project from the company planning to install turbines.
A meeting conducted Tuesday night by the recently formed organization, No Brimfield Wind, drew about 150 people for a discussion about potential noise, scenic changes, tree removal on the mountain and other concerns if the wind farm is installed and also about steps residents in this small town could take in an effort to stop the project.
The guest speaker at the meeting, Eleanor Tillinghast of the environmental advocacy organization Green Berkshires, suggested that a rejection of the $30,000 offer would be a good step toward stopping the project being proposed by the Boston based company, First Wind.
Virginia Irvine, who ran the No Brimfield Wind meeting, urged opponents to show up in time for the selectmen’s 6:30 p.m. meeting at Brimfield Elementary School and make their opposition known.
Tillinghast said that the turbines being planned for West Mountain would be 443 feet tall, making them higher than any building in the state outside of Boston and four times the height of the Brimfield Congregational Church.
“They will dwarf your landscape,” she said.
With references to news reports from other parts of the country and England, Tillinghast talked about problems with noise, property value decline and safety related to large turbines, and she said the amount of electricity that could be generated from the proposed Brimfield project would be insignificant in terms of the state’s consumption. Selectmen Chairman Thomas C. Marino said earlier this week that the town’s lawyers have recommended accepting the $30,000 and have identified a consultant who could be hired for some portion of that money to advise the town in its dealings with First Wind.
Marino said accepting the money would not bind the town to eventually accepting the wind farm.
“It is a way for us to get money up front so that we can do our due diligence,” he said.
Representatives of the town and First Wind have said that the wind farm could not be built without a zone change that would take a two-thirds vote at a future Town Meeting.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Tillinghast said that there is legislation pending in Massachusetts that could remove such a requirement and leave the town without a local veto over turbine projects.
Marino, who did not attend the Tuesday meeting, said earlier in the week that he and a few other town officials toured the vicinity of a First Wind turbine project in Mars Hill, Maine, last week and met with local people, some opposed and some who support the project.
“I had heard about noise, but I was surprised by how much noise,” Marino said after his visit. “I came away with the idea that sound is more of an issue than I felt before going up there.”
Marino said First Wind has offered a payment of $145,000 a year for 20 years in lieu of taxes. He has plans for an informational meeting after the vote tonight, so people can ask questions and voice their concerns.
At the Tuesday meeting, Tillinghast identified herself as someone who has educated herself about various aspects of the wind farm industry through her involvement with Green Berkshires.
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