March 25, 2011

County commissioners defer wind regs vote one week; Members disagree on procedures

Written by David Still II, The Barnstable Patriot, 25 March 2011

The Barnstable County Commissioners want to hear from county attorney Robert Troy before their vote to send proposed wind regulations to the Assembly of Delegates for a public hearing and vote, or not.

At issue is just what the commissioners’ role is at this point. Commissioners offered conflicting interpretations of the schedule and obligations the board is under.

The usual route for proposed county ordinances is for the draft to be approved by the commissioners and sent to the Assembly for a hearing and vote. The commissioners must then ratify that action.

Commissioner Sheila Lyons sees the commissioners’ function as more ministerial at this stage, with a vote on the merits of the proposal coming after the regulations go to the Assembly and are acted upon.

Commissioners Chairman Bill Doherty believes that the commissioners have an option to send the regulations to the Assembly or not. Doherty has made clear his dislike for the latest draft.

Doherty also chairs the Cape Light Compact, a point made by a supporter of the restrictive regulations, not by Doherty.

Complicating things are the ordinance provisions in the Cape Cod Commission Act.

As explained by commission staff attorney Jessica Weilgus, proposed regulations out of the commission need to be transmitted to both the county commissioners and Assembly of Delegates within 30 days of approval. That happened last week, with the commissioners and Assembly receiving the approved commission draft. At the Assembly, Speaker Ron Bergstrom noted that he had received the proposal, but wasn’t sure why the commissioners hadn’t sent it. He wound up tossing the clipped piled of papers behind him and continuing on with the meeting.

The commissioner will meet with Troy March 30, although no time had been set at press time.

At the March 23 meeting, Brewster Selectman Ed Lewis asked that the commissioners send the proposed regulations back to the commission to provide greater relief for municipal projects. He said the effect of the regulations would be a wind ban across Cape Cod.

Brewster is working with the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative, formed with seed money and support from the county, to construct two 1.8MW turbines in its industrial area off Freeman’s Way.

Brewster Town Administrator Charlie Sumner concurred.

The meeting saw a large contingent of Harwich residents wary of wind projects asking that the regulations be forwarded to the Assembly.

The regulations were drafted by Cape Cod Commission staff after the Assembly of Delegates turned back minimal standards in November. Some Assembly members who’d seen wind developments built or proposed in their towns, including Richard Anderson of Bourne and Julia Taylor of Falmouth, wanted to see greater controls in the commission’s standards.

The draft presented to the County Commissioners is seen by other towns as too strict, especially for municipal projects.

Among other things, the regulations include a 65-foot height threshold for review. The proposal includes a provision to create an exemption for the height restriction with a certified local bylaw. Municipal projects of 250 kilowatts or less on a single parcel would also be exempt from impact studies for noise and shadow flicker as well as the proposed decommissioning requirements.

The Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC), formed as a partnership with the county, opposes the commission’s draft, arguing that municipalities and CVEC projects should be exempt from review.

The draft of the wind regulations is available at

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