I moved to Scituate for its clean air and peaceful, friendly small-town atmosphere. Scituate appeared to be forward thinking, and I admired that.
Like many of my neighbors, I am committed to helping preserve our planet. Apart from simple recycling, I have been actively involved in clean energy functions. I have been a participant in a traveling performing arts group dedicated to the further understanding of climate change and our role in preventing it. I truly believe that we are the stewards of our planet and have the inexcusable responsibility to make our environment as balanced and healthy as possible. I drive a hybrid for that reason.
I also believe in many of the various alternative energy solutions that are now moving into our lives. I can fully understand when I hear people say that they think that harnessing wind energy is a good idea. However, I have come to realize that when people say they are a good idea and can be erected anywhere, that they must not have done their homework.
When I was informed about a proposed wind turbine to be built across the street from my home, my thoughts were to go to the informational meeting and keep an open mind. The first thing I heard from two sources in the presentation was that it was either this (a wind turbine) or Section 8 housing. I was immediately offended since some people were assuming that I had the same prejudices that they apparently had. I wondered what opposition the presenters must be expecting to prompt the use of “scare tactics.” I resolved to know more and started to read about wind turbines and their effects when operated in residential areas. I learned about health issues related to “shadow flicker,” “ice throws,” “noise syndrome” not to mention unquestionably decreased property values. What I also learned was that other communities that had welcomed wind turbines were now spending their days regretting their decisions for many of these mentioned reasons. I also learned that there are new laws in other communities requiring that wind turbines be erected no closer than one and one-half miles from any residence. Another study has recommended two miles.
In June, the Scituate Town Council commissioned a steering committee to take up to a year to draft an ordinance. It would amend the present zoning laws to allow wind turbines to be erected in our town. My heart sank at the first meeting when one member said that “I think we should move this along out of deference to the applicant,” and another said, “We should expect to complete this task in about two meetings.” To me this was a colossal and potentially town changing endeavor not tied to any application. It surely needed all of a year to explore every avenue.
Some concerned citizens presented a two page list of detailed concerns. Thankfully, the committee appeared to address that list. I attended every meeting regularly in the hopes that the committee would construct an ordinance for wind turbines that would responsibly consider and protect most residents’ choice of living style. That is, quiet, esthetically rural in the typical way and healthy with little or no reduction in the worth of their homes. The committee did not consult any experts in the various fields related to the issues at hand. Rather, it relied on each member’s personal research and thoughts. When a couple of members presented extensive and reliable research based on current studies and hard lessons learned in other parts of the world, it was ignored. At one point when questioned about this apparent disregard, I was told “If we listened to that (the recent research) then there would be no place in Scituate where we could allow a wind turbine.” Another member asked what the hurry was? Again, he was ignored. I was increasingly disappointed as the committee plowed forth to its tunnel-visioned end.
In three short months the committee produced a document that is at best vague and lacks clear standards.
For example, there is: no residential or commercial delineation with regard to erecting wind turbines; no size restrictions; no residency requirement; and no cap on the number allowed in the town.
Now ponder this scenario…
If this is not stopped, then all of us could realistically look forward to anyone using one’s residentially zoned land to erect the biggest wind turbine they make for personal financial gain. Neighbors would have nothing to say because there is an ordinance with plenty of loopholes to allow it. Having created this “money-maker,” one no longer has to work and can purchase a home in another location, and not be personally affected by the annoying churning of the turbine’s propellers, the constant droning of its generator or the shadow flicker and related health issues associated with all of these. This person will have literally created a business in an area previously zoned for residential use only.
As this scenario expands in numbers, I shudder to think about how our town will be quickly transformed into something unrecognizable from its clean, quiet, country image.
The Town Council has set its first hearing in the process toward getting the ordinance passed or rejected. I urge all residents to investigate for themselves all aspects of this important decision. Once a wind turbine is in your neighborhood, there won’t be anything you can do about it.
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