BREWSTER – Wind turbine proponents now hope the state will give them the right to build two 410-foot-tall turbines in Brewster after town meeting and the planning board failed to authorize the project.
Brewster’s municipal wind turbine proposal narrowly missed getting the two-thirds majority vote it needed at Monday’s town meeting that would have changed the town’s zoning bylaws by removing the requirement of a special permit from the planning board. Earlier this winter, the planning board deadlocked on a vote to deny the permit.
Selectmen subsequently decided they would put an article on the May 2 town meeting warrant that some opponents of the project said bypassed the procedure outlined in the town’s wind turbine bylaws.
After the planning board’s denial of the special permit, the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative, which is funding the proposed project, announced its intention to go to the state Department of Public Utilities to seek an exemption to town zoning.
CVEC spokesperson Maggie Downey said Tuesday that her board of directors recently voted to seek that exemption from the state, but has yet to officially file the appeal.
Downey was not sure how long the process could take but that it would take less time than an appeal through the courts.
In 2007, the DPU granted an exemption to Princeton Wind, a similar-sized project in Princeton that had been held up for more than three years by town zoning battles.
Brewster resident Rick Judd, a turbine foe who lived near the proposed site, said the Princeton decision involved a very small minority holding up the project and not hundreds of voters who voted against the Brewster project Monday night.
He thought it a measure of their distrust of turbines that a source of new revenue could not get a two-thirds vote.
Time is important, wind proponents say, because there is a cap on the amount of renewable energy that NStar is required to buy at the higher retail price. Selectmen fear that the number of renewable energy projects currently in the planning pipeline in NStar’s service area could use up that cap quickly and hamper the profitability of the Brewster turbines.
Downey called Monday’s town meeting vote “a very good vote.”
“Sixty-four percent of attendees at that meeting supported the wind turbines,” Downey said. “That’s more than a majority of people attending.”
The measure fell 25 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for approval.
Selectmen have already taken a vote in support of the CVEC appeal. Board chairman Ed Lewis said he would like to bring it to another vote at the selectmen’s next meeting to reaffirm their support for this approach.
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