They’ll be no bylaw change, bypassing the Brewster planning board, on the way to permitting “by right” municipal wind energy turbines on town land.
Article 5 failed to muster the required two-thirds majority, although it collected loads of support at a jam-packed town meeting Monday night. The cafetorium was filled to capacity and the audience spilled into the library and art room where they viewed the proceedings via audio and visual hook-up. After 70 minutes of debate 725 voted in favor of Article 5 and 411 against (64 percent when the measure needed 66 percent since it was a zoning bylaw amendment) so it failed by just 25 votes out of 1136.
The town opted to seek a new bylaw after the planning board voted 3-3-1 on a motion to deny the required special permit for the twin-turbine project off Freeman’s Way earlier this year, when. The bylaw would’ve eliminated the requirement for a special permit in the industrial zone.
Ed Lewis of the board of selectmen said a legal appeal would’ve cost $200,000 and taken 18-24 months.
“The project is time sensitive,” he noted. “This is not a power grab, although I do disagree with the planning board decision and believe Brewster voters deserve to be heard.”
They were heard and they favored the turbines but not by enough.
“We expected as citizens to get a full hearing and after three months of deliberation the planning board made their decision,” said Mitch Relin, President of Brewster Citizens for Responsible Energy, a leading foe of the project. “If article 5 passes Brewster citizens will lose the right of any hearing in regards to this matter.”
Many noted the planning board is elected to review projects like this, and the previous town meeting authorized them to review these turbines.
“We did our due diligence,” asserted planning board member Rich Kuzman, “and spent hours listening to resident’s concerns and to CVEC. I challenge any other committee to say that.”
“I’m amazed how easily neighbors want to throw neighbors under the bus in the name of ‘green’,” he added.
“Article 5 is not fair. It’s not democratic. It’s nothing more than a sneaky attempt to disregard the democratic process,” declared Kara Duff.
“I support the project,” another resident said. “It would leave the world a little bit cleaner than the one we have now.”
“’By right is wrong. By right is dangerous. The democratic process must go forward,” Rick Judd countered. “Think of your neighbor. Think of your child. Think of a better alternative than these two massive turbines.”
“This is not clean. Sound is air pollution,” added Kathy Sherman.
“This will be successful financially with strong community acceptance, paralleling the experience of Portsmouth Rhode Island and Mass. Maritime Academy,” predicted John Cunningham of the energy committee.
“Property values initially plummeted when wind turbines were suggested. After two years they went right back up,” Jen Rabold said. “Lets make the world a little bit greener.”
“I’m concerned as a physician,” said Al Weyman.
“I don’t understand how people can worry about the health effects of wind,” replied a physician’s assistant.
And so it went until debate was cut off at 8:55 p.m. After the vote there was a motion for a recount but as people had left the town counsel advised the vote should stand.
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