BOURNE – The fate of a bylaw amendment that could effectively nix a proposal for the construction of seven industrial-sized wind turbines is now in the hands of town meeting voters.
After hearing nearly three hours of emotional debate, Bourne Planning Board members chose not to make a positive or negative recommendation for the New Generation Wind project proposed for Bournedale. Instead, the panel voted 8-1 to recommend further study of the project and to have board chairman Christopher Farrell make a presentation to voters.
Peter Meier, a board member who also is a candidate for selectman, was the lone dissenter.
Town meeting voters can either follow the planning board’s recommendation and send the bylaw back for further study, or possibly accept it, reject it or amend it.
“The important thing is town meeting voters will get their say,” Meier said following Friday’s planning board meeting.
Plans call for six 2.5-megawatt turbines and one 2-megawatt turbine in Bournedale in a proposed technology park. Panhandle Trust owner Tudor “Jerry” Ingersoll and the Lorusso family, owners of Cape Cod Aggregates, would build three turbines at a Cape Cod Aggregates gravel pit, one on Cape Cod Aggregates-owned land off Route 6, and the three other turbines on land near Route 25.
The 15-page bylaw amendment seeks several new restrictions on wind turbines, including rules that would increase setbacks, expand fall zones and limit shadow flicker, said Christopher Senie, a Westboro-based attorney who represents 29 Bournedale households opposed to the project.
Under the current bylaws, which were passed last year, the fall zone is the total height of a turbine plus an additional 10 feet. There is no acoustic setback listed.
Senie said the bylaw amendment is suggesting a fall and ice shed zone of 994 feet from the nearest property lines, up from 502 feet. It also proposes an acoustic setback of 10 times the rotor blade diameter, which means all houses would be a minimum of 3,280 feet from a turbine.
Shadow flicker would be limited to five hours per year.
While the majority of the residents who packed Friday’s meeting favored the new restrictions, opponents of the bylaw amendment said the restrictive measures translate into a moratorium on large-scale turbines.
“It is a bad planning policy to react to one particular project,” said Diane Tillotson, an attorney for New Generation Wind. “You’d essentially prohibit any commercial wind resource.”
Town Planner Coreen Moore took the proposed wind turbine restrictions and used town maps to research how the erection of turbines would be impacted if the measure passes.
Residential 10-kilowatt turbines could be located at only 37 sites, Moore said. Community scale 100-kilowatt turbines could be sited in 13 locations, and 500-kilowatt machines would be limited to three parcels.
The Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s 660-kilowatt turbine would not have been built under the proposed amended bylaw because dormitories are less than 600 feet from the turbine.
The one thing both sides agree on is that the current bylaw that took effect last year needs fine-tuning. And planning board member Douglas Shearer said he is seeking middle ground.
“There’s got to be some leeway in between,” he said. “I struggle with looking at the maps and supporting either bylaw at this point.”
Special town meeting is set to begin Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Bourne High School auditorium.
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