PEPPERELL – The Planning Board held a public hearing this week to discuss the proposed small-wind-energy systems bylaw to be voted on at Town Meeting this spring. The one resident at the hearing had several recommendations to the board to improve the clarity and intent of the bylaw proposal.
“This is certainly much better than what you submitted last year,” said Ron Carr, a resident of Elm Street.
The first attempt to pass a wind-energy bylaw failed to garner enough votes last year. The complex document put before last year’s Town Meeting did not differentiate between large commercial wind-energy ventures and smaller, less conspicuous residential installations.
“Let’s show we can trust the Planning Board on this. You’ve got to convince people that you’re serious about this and you really want to see this happen,” said Carr.
The proposed bylaw that was reviewed at this week’s public hearing is designed to “provide for the regulation for the construction and operation of a small-wind-energy system” that would typically be installed in a noncommercial setting. These types of installations include modest turbines not exceeding 60 kilowatts mounted on a monopole, or much smaller devices that can be mounted to an existing structure.
Carr requested that the board add language to the bylaw that would address impacts to neighborhood character, consistent with language already used in the bylaw addressing cell towers. The board agreed the word “aesthetics” should be added to the permitting section of the bylaw.
The challenge the board faces at Town Meeting is to convince the public that there is a need for the bylaw. Planning Board Chairman Stephen Themelis was quick to point out that without a bylaw, almost anything could be constructed anywhere in town without consideration of the permitting restrictions defined in the proposed bylaw.
“With no bylaw, anything goes,” he said.
The board plans to distribute a brochure explaining small-wind-energy systems, and show installations in neighboring towns. The board agreed to continue the hearing for another two weeks for more public comment.
Board members received their first glimpse of a new open-space residential development that is being proposed off 110 South Road. The development, known as Robinson Hollow, is on the footprint of an earlier proposed subdivision called Academy Hill. Robinson Hollow would have eight homes on a cul-de-sac.
“I do not like the lot configuration at all,” said Planning Administrator Susan Snyder, noting how close some of the proposed homes were to the buffer zone. The board has not met with the developer and no public hearing has been scheduled.
Mark Marston announced his resignation from the board this week due to his relocation to New Hampshire. Board members thanked Marston for his service. Alternate Stephen Britain will replace Marston until spring elections.
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