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Brewster’s indecision on turbine may spur lawsuit

BREWSTER – The planning board’s indecision on installing two large wind turbines on town-owned land could end up in either state Land Court or in Barnstable Superior Court, according to the appeals process laid out in town bylaws.

The Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative, which proposed funding and building the two turbines in Brewster, will meet March 17 in executive session to discuss possible litigation, said Maggie Downey, CVEC board director.

CVEC must file an appeal on the Brewster Planning Board decision by March 25.

On Feb. 16, the seven-member planning board failed to achieve a supermajority of five votes on a motion to deny the special permit required for the project to receive a building permit. The three votes to deny the permit effectively resulted in a hung jury, and the board adjourned without taking a definitive vote either way. “It comes out as a denial,” Town Planner Susan Leven said. “The appeal is over an inability to go forward.”

The objectors cited health concerns from noise and shadows and also the aesthetics of size, as both 1.65-megawatt turbines would be 410 feet high measured to the topmost blade tip.

A majority of the board thought the turbines would affect both the scenic and property values in town.

CVEC would have paid Brewster $100,000 a year in lease payments for 20 years for the use of town-owned land in an industrial park off Freemans Way. CVEC would also provide municipal departments with discounted power at a stabilized price for at least the 20-year lease period. The total value of both the lease and power was estimated at $3.6 million over a 15-year period.

The town is possibly facing multiple overrides this year to fund town and school budgets as well as additional personnel for the fire and police departments. Assistant Town Administrator Jillian Douglass said the $100,000 in annual lease payments represents a relatively large revenue increase.

“It’s a way to bring us back on even keel,” she said.

While they would prefer to have the town also appeal that decision, CVEC can proceed on its own, Downey said. Brewster selectmen have yet to meet to decide on whether to join in the litigation, Douglass said.