DENNIS – The battle over a wind turbine proposed for a shellfish hatchery near Chapin Memorial Beach may not be over yet.
During its meeting Tuesday the Dennis Board of Selectmen plans to discuss possible legal action on behalf of the Aquaculture Research Corp., which wants to install a 164-foot-tall turbine on its 39 acres of beachfront property.
The appeals board of the Old King’s Highway Regional Historic District killed the project, at least temporarily, by voting against it Sept. 28. The decision reversed an earlier approval by the Dennis Old King’s Highway Historic District Commission.
The next step for Aquaculture Research Corp., also known as ARC, or another interested party, would be to file an appeal in favor of the wind turbine in Barnstable District Court.
Dennis selectmen are scheduled to discuss that prospect during an executive session Tuesday, said Selectman Heidi Schadt. She said she is concerned with how the regional appeals board made its decision.
According to Peter Lomenzo of Dennis, chairman of the Old King’s Highway Regional Historic District appeals board, members representing other towns in the district decided the Dennis committee had “made an error in judgment.” Lomenzo, who is also on the Dennis board, abstained from voting last month.
But the only basis for overturning a local committee’s decision is on procedural grounds, Schadt said.
“Our local committee had a four-hour meeting on it,” she said. “I don’t know what poor judgment means. It’s not clear to me.
“It’s a huge, huge issue,” she said. “It’s affecting the economy of this town.”
ARC is the largest hatchery on the East Coast and supplies clam and oyster seeds to more than 60 shellfish farms on the Cape and throughout Southeastern Massachusetts, said ARC vice president Gail Hart.
The appeals board’s vote against the wind turbine “certainly affects our whole future viability,” she said. ARC officials have said the wind turbine would drastically reduce energy costs.
Wind turbine opponents, who have formed a group called Save Our Beaches, say they doubt those claims.
“If they’re that bad, show us the books,” said Rosemarie Austin of Dennis. “Right now all they’re showing is a sad story.”
Her organization has concerns about the safety features of the turbine, which would reach 242 feet at the highest point of its spinning blades, as well as concerns about spoiling the view and harming wetlands, Austin said.
Such apprehensions are not limited to Dennis residents, said Anne Ierardi of Yarmouthport, a painter and spiritual counselor who draws inspiration from Grays Beach.
The turbine “is very large. It’s very close to the beach,” she said.
The Old King’s Highway Regional Historic District appeals board includes a representative from each of the historic district’s member towns: Sandwich, Barnstable, Yarmouth, Dennis, Brewster and Orleans.
The board has 30 days from the date of its Sept. 28 vote to issue a written decision, Hart said. She said wind turbine proponents then will have 20 days to file an appeal in court.
“We’re looking at probably a year, if we appeal, before the case is heard,” Hart said.
“It’s more money and more time,” she said. “It’s an expensive legal process.”
Cape Cod Community College currently has a case in district court appealing the regional historic district’s rejection of a wind turbine at the college’s West Barnstable campus.
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