The Planning Board is opposed to the town applying for a “Green Communities” designation, saying it will not “support zoning bylaw amendments that put the town at risk just to receive a designation, or just to receive a grant.”
On September 21, the board voted to send Town Administrator Louis Celozzi a memo stating: “The requirement to provide for the as-of-right siting of renewable or alternate energy generating facilities, renewable or alternative energy research and development (R&D) facilities, or renewable or alternative energy manufacturing facilities in designated locations is very troubling to the Planning Board. This seems contrary to the underlying principal of the zoning bylaw to protect residential neighborhoods by separating incompatible uses.”
The memo stems from an August meeting that John Tehan, chairman of the town’s Renewable Energy Advisory Committee (REAC) had with the Board of Selectmen to discuss having the town apply to obtain the state’s “Green Community” designation. Such a designation, he said, would make Milford eligible to apply for grants from the state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to implement local clean energy projects. Selectmen took the REAC’s request under advisement, saying they would gather information from appropriate town departments and committees on how state program would affect them
According to the DOER’s website, the Green Communities Grant Program “uses funding from auctions of carbon emissions permits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to reward communities that earn Green Communities designation by meeting five clean energy benchmarks:
• Adopting local zoning bylaw or ordinance that allows “as-of-right-siting” of renewable energy projects;
• Adopting an expedited permitting process related to the as-of-right facilities;
• Establishing a municipal energy use baseline and establishing a program designed to reduce use by 20 percent within five years;
• Purchasing only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use, whenever such vehicles are commercially available and practicable; and,
• Requiring all new residential construction over 3,000 square feet and all new commercial and industrial real estate construction to reduce lifecycle energy costs (i.e., adoption of an energy-saving building ‘stretch code’).”
In early September, the Planning Board designated Town Planner Larry Dunkin to prepare its comments to selectmen.
The Planning Board’s memo noted that requirements for “fall zone” setbacks for wind turbine towers, as well as their excessive height “would also be a major concern, especially in or near residential areas. Both of these types of requirements would eliminate such uses from approximately 85% of the town.”
The Planning Board also noted that the “Green Communities” requirement for “an expedited application and permitting process” does not recognize that “Milford already has one of the state’s most expedited permitting processes.” The “Green Communities” program wants such a permitting process done as an amendment to the town’s zoning bylaw under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 43D – which Milford’s is not, so it isn’t “officially recognized,” the board’s memo said. The state’s method would also require additional approval from the state Interagency Permitting Board, according to the memo.
“I think your comments are spot on,” board member Patrick Kennelly told Dunkin as the board members reviewed the memo before approving it.
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