Billerica, Mass. – On the third night of the fall 2010 Town Meeting, proposals for new energy alternatives were discussed at length.
The result was the approval of Article 41, which will allow Solar Energy Conversion Systems (SECS) to be constructed in town, as well as the resubmission of Article 40, which called for Wind Energy Conversion Systems (WECS), to the Planning Board.
Article 40 raised doubts and unease for many representatives about the viability of WECS, or wind turbines. Representative Mary-Anne Wolf of Precinct 11 expressed her concerns over Billerica’s relative lack of wind power compared to other towns.
“The wind has to blow fast enough and consistently enough,” Wolf said at the Tuesday, Oct. 12 meeting. “It seems to me that Billerica is not a place where it would make financial sense.”
Aside from viability, other concerns raised included potential problems with noise, inconvenience, and safety.
Two lengthy amendments to the article were then proposed, and were subsequently voted down after several representatives, including Pauline Browne of Precinct 6, suggested that it was simply too much material to discuss during the Town Meeting. Browne recommended that, if the representatives were displeased with the current terms of the article, that it be resubmitted to the Planning Board for further consideration.
Ultimately, Article 40 was referred back to the board.
Article 41 called for an amendment to the zoning bylaw by adding regulations for the approval, installation, and maintenance of SECS, or solar panels. Director of Planning Peter Kennedy pointed out that Article 41 would raise fewer concerns than Article 40 had.
“In literature, these are much less of a problem. The impacts are far less negative,” Kennedy said.
This article met a much warmer reception than Article 40 did. Representative Rome Capobianco of Precinct 4 expressed his wholehearted support for the article. He called attention to the success of other nearby towns that had incorporated alternative energy systems, including Belmont, Littleton, Lexington, and Hull, and conveyed his excitement that Billerica was beginning to follow suit.
“This is a step in the right direction,” he emphasized.
Article 41 was approved.
Both Article 36, which called for the town’s recognition of four roads in the Simonds Farm subdivision as public ways, and Article 37, which called for the acceptance of Stonewall Lane, were unanimously approved after the representatives were reassured that the roads had been inspected and were in good condition. Articles 42 and 43, regarding the keeping of hens, were referred to the Board of Health and the Planning Board, respectively, for further study.
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