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Nothing doing: Dennis rejects roundabout, turbine proposals  

Credit:  By Nicole Muller, The Register, www.wickedlocal.com 27 April 2011 ~~

DENNIS – Drawn by two controversial projects, 233 Dennis residents gathered Tuesday night at the Dennis Senior Center for the Dennis Water District’s Annual Meeting. Neighbors from Harwich and Brewster stood outside the building, urging opposition to the three wind-turbine-related articles.

Without an easement of just over an acre of water district land, the proposed roundabout at Route 134 and Airline Road in South Dennis was quashed by a 190-43 vote.

Rejection continued as Article 7, which sought permission to file special legislation requesting permission to generate renewable energy on protected water-district land and Article 8, asking for authority to construct two wind turbines on the district’s property in East Dennis, were defeated.

Article 7 initially passed 94-93. But following the 97-88 defeat of Article 8, Article 7 was reconsidered and failed 97-94.

A third article, requesting authority to grant an easement to the town so it could construct a wind turbine on water district property was indefinitely postponed.

Speakers supporting the requested land easements noted that these projects would require approval at a Dennis Town Meeting before moving forward. But opponents saw no reason to pave the way for projects they do not want.

Selectmen Chairman Paul McCormick said the land easement for the roundabout “needs to be passed so Town Meeting can decide what to do about the Route 134/Airline Road safety hazard.”

Water District Commissioner Peter McDowell asked voters to reject the request. “While a roundabout may be favorable to automobile traffic, it’s not friendly to pedestrians or kids on bicycles trying to cross the road,” he said. McDowell also objected to “spending Chapter 70 funds from the state, traditionally used for public roads, to create what I see as a harassment to traffic.”

Jim Plath, a member of both the town’s and the water district’s finance committees, opposed the article, speaking as a private citizen. He noted that the project would cost the town more than $500,000 in Chapter 90 funds and that the town has never tried other means to mitigate traffic at the Route 134/Airline Road intersection. “By voting ‘no,’ you will force the town to seek alternate ways to address traffic on this busy road,” Plath said. “There are ways to redirect traffic flow without placing a blockade on Route 134.”

Burt Derick of South Dennis said roundabouts mitigate traffic velocity and help people safely enter an intersection. He urged his neighbors to approve the article “so citizens can vote their minds at Town Meeting.”

Turbine turmoil

Dave Talbot, chairman of the water district’s finance committee, said he’s opposed to bringing wind turbines to Dennis, and would vote in favor of actually building them only if and when he’s convinced they will do no harm. “Not passing these articles will squander the opportunity to do good. Passing them will force sound testing and other measures that could assure us that no harm would come from them.”

Howard Bonnington of South Dennis said the water district is overstepping its authority.

“Their duty is to give us a good water supply, not become a power-generating station,” he said.

Mert Ingham of South Dennis said half of Dennis residents earn less than the town’s $40,000 median income. “The water department is doing an honorable thing, trying to control your water rates, and wind energy is good for the environment. It’s time to consider the common good and stop dancing around the maybes.”

Mary Lobek of South Dennis said her father taught her never to buy the first model year of a car. “You wait until they have worked out the bugs,” she said. “Turbines have been around for 20 years. I can’t see any logic in denying this opportunity. We are losing the battle of carbon loading.”

Former selectman John Griffin said it boils down to whether or not people have confidence in their elected leaders. “Do we believe they’re going to be careful?” he asked. “I certainly do. We’re in trouble with energy. We talk about it, but we don’t do anything to fix the problem.”

Source:  By Nicole Muller, The Register, www.wickedlocal.com 27 April 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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