BREWSTER – At Monday’s town meeting, voters get a choice of a selectmen’s article that would allow municipal wind turbines in the town’s industrial zone, or two citizen-petitioned articles that would essentially prohibit medium- to large-scale turbines in town.
They also will vote on a package of school and town operating budgets that will be bundled into a nearly $800,000 Proposition 2½ override. And, several zoning articles would change the review process and open up town-owned land to solar-power arrays.
The Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative has proposed installing two 410-foot-tall municipal wind turbines on town-owned land in an industrial park off Freeman’s Way.
The Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative would pay the estimated $10 million to purchase, erect and maintain the turbines, and it would supply electricity at a stable and discounted price to municipal departments. The town also would get $100,000 a year in lease payments from the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative for the use of the land.
At previous town meetings, voters have backed wind turbine proposals by unanimous or near-unanimous votes. But controversy over potential health effects from wind turbines linked to noise and shadow flicker led to a deadlocked vote on the cooperative’s wind power project at the planning board this winter. The board was evenly split on whether to grant a special permit for the project as required under the town’s bylaws.
Recently, selectmen endorsed a warrant article that would withdraw the special permit requirement for municipal turbines in the industrial zone.
Wind turbine opponents have two articles they petitioned to get on the town meeting warrant. One asks voters to authorize selectmen to enter into long-term contracts for renewable energy, but prohibits any medium- or large-sized turbine from being located within 1.2 miles of any residence. The second adds wind turbines to the town’s noise bylaw.
Both petitioned articles would make the cooperative’s proposed turbines illegal and make it virtually impossible to erect any large turbines in town.
It’s been eight years since voters approved an override to fund town budgets. A Proposition 2½ override vote is required when a municipality proposes to spend more than the 2½ percent increase in the property tax levy allowed under state law.
Despite a 5.2 percent drop in enrollment, the elementary school budget is up nearly 7.7 percent over last year and has a $341,157 override. A large portion of that money would go to special education, which is mandated under state law and varies widely each year depending on the students served.
The Nauset Regional School District’s budget requires a $243,596 override vote, largely due to capital costs totalling $221,304, and despite a decrease in the town’s assessment.
The town’s proposed $16.8 million operating budget is up by more than 4 percent over last year and has an override request of $214,769. Selectmen have decided to submit the override as one package totaling $799,522. A positive vote at town meeting and at the subsequent town election would add 23 cents to the tax rate, or $92 added to the property tax on a home assessed at $400,000.
Other articles of interest include a zoning change to allow solar power projects on town-owned land such as the golf course and transfer station.
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