DENNIS – The Old King’s Highway Regional Historic District Commission, on a 3-1 vote Tuesday afternoon, annulled the Dennis Committee’s Aug. 25 approval of Aquacultural Research Corporation’s application to build a 600 kW wind turbine on its property adjacent to Chapin Beach.
Rosemarie Austin of Spadoni Way in Dennis led the opposition to the turbine, claiming in her appeal it would be, “non-conforming to the [Old King’s Highway Regional Historic District] Act. It is disruptive and obtrusive to all surrounding population and recreational facilities and is a direct violation of the Act.”
ARC contends it needs the turbine in order to continue operating its shellfish propagation business.
Following ARC’s detailed description of the project, Austin and a group of her supporters presented a long list of objections. Austin said the Dennis committee used poor judgment in reaching its decision.
Noting that Dennis has zoned five areas of town for wind turbines, Austin said ARC should put its turbine in one of those areas. ARC Attorney John Kenney later said ARC does not own property in any of the designated areas and noted that ARC, founded in 1960, predates the OKH Act by 13 years.
Peter Lomenzo of Dennis, chairman of the OKH regional commission, abstained from voting on the appeal, but he did present the Dennis OKH committee’s procedure in making its decision.
The Dennis decision, Lomenzo said, might be considered “poor judgment,” which is one of five criteria the Act specifies as grounds for a local decision to be overturned or remanded. “It was a 3-2 split vote,” he said. “I thought the project was too dense, too big.” Lomenzo voted against the turbine at the local level.
OKH commission member Richard Gegenwarth of Yarmouth argued against using electricity to heat water or buildings. “I think putting a 242-foot windmill up there is inappropriate for that location,” he said. Gegenwath did not address the Dennis committee’s decision process.
Patricia McArdle of Sandwich said she didn’t know if the Dennis committee heard all the information that was presented to the regional commission. McArdle also questioned whether the project violates the Environmental Protection Act and whether the proposed turbine is safe.
Lawrence Houghton of Brewster told McArdle that those are concerns of the Dennis Conservation Commission and building commissioner. “Our mandate is to review the decision,” he said. “Wind turbines can’t be hidden. At some point, Old King’s Highway must come to grips with the fact that we are mandated to consider renewable energy. I think this site is as perfect as you can get. I believe the Dennis committee upheld its end of the discourse.”
But Barnstable representative Patricia Anderson disagreed. “I think they exercised poor judgment,” she said. “I think they approved the application based on ARC’s feasibility study and did not take the neighbors’ concerns into consideration.”
The regional committee has 30 days to file its decision. Anyone aggrieved by the decision has 20 days to appeal it in district court.
Asked whether ARC will appeal, a stunned and disappointed ARC vice president Gail Hart said, “We have not decided our future course of action.” She then left the room.
Liz Argo of Brewster, a renewable energy consultant, was clearly dismayed. “This decision has ramifications across Cape Cod,” she said. “They don’t want to look at [the turbine] and they are basing their decision on that.”