UNITY – Putting up a large commercial wind turbine in Unity will not be a simple matter.
Voters made sure of that Saturday at their annual Town Meeting when they overwhelming approved a 39-page ordinance that one of the document’s crafters described as “fairly restrictive.”
“We err on the side of the protecting the landowner,” said resident John Piotti, chairman of the town’s Comprehensive Plan Committee. “That is how we designed the ordinance.”
Among the restrictions is a requirement that commercial wind turbine developers get approval of all landowners within a 1-mile radius of the project.
The ordinance describes commercial wind turbines as having towers more than 150 feet high and a generating capacity of more than 100 kilowatts.
Piotti stressed to residents at the meeting, held at Unity Elementary School, that the ordinance does not apply to the smaller wind turbines a homeowner might install for personal energy needs.
Such turbines, Piotti told voters, are addressed in a proposed amended version of the town’s Land Use Ordinance. He described the requirements as minor, all of them listed on one page.
“Our goal here,” he said, “was to make it relatively easy for a landowner who wishes to put up a wind turbine to do so, while protecting the rights of other landowners.”
Voters, again overwhelmingly, approved the changes to the land-use ordinance, including the ones applying to small wind turbines.
They set the stage for Saturday’s ordinance and land-use amendment last summer at a special town meeting when they approved a moratorium on wind power development for six months.
They later extended that moratorium for an additional six months, Piotti said.
Piotti said Unity had no ordinance governing wind turbine development before Saturday’s meeting. He said that was the motivation behind establishing the moratorium and moving forward on an effort to create rules for such projects.
“It has been a very active process,” he said of the work to write the ordinance. “This is very complicated stuff.”
Voters approved the 35-article warrant with only one amendment, adding $7,000 to the Fire Department funding request to cover the cost of upgrading the department’s self-contained breathing apparatus units.
Firefighters had been using the existing units for 21 years, a town fire official said.
Even with the $7,000 increase to the proposed town budget, the spending plan voters approved is down about $57,000 from a year ago, falling from about $900,000 to about $843,000.
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