BREWSTER – It’s the process that never ends. Or so it seems to opponents of the town’s proposed municipal wind turbine project.
At their meeting Monday night, the board of selectmen voted to reaffirm their support for Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative, asking the state Department of Public Utilities to exempt two 410-foot-tall wind turbines on town-owned land off Freeman’s Way from town zoning.
“It’s very disheartening to live in a town where selectmen keep changing the rules to get what they want,” turbine opponent Mitch Relin of Brewster said.
In its proposal, CVEC, whose membership includes 19 towns and county organizations, has proposed to pay for the turbines. The cooperative would make lease payments to Brewster and supply discounted electricity to municipal departments at a stable price.
But in February, the turbine proposal failed to get the votes it needed from the planning board for a special permit required under its municipal turbine bylaws.
In March, selectmen voted unanimously to support CVEC’s decision to ask the DPU for an exemption even as the board prepared its own article for town meeting.
CVEC had not filed for the exemption as of Tuesday, DPU spokesman Tim Shevlin said. Once they do, the DPU schedules a public hearing in the town, followed by an evidentiary hearing in Boston at which they take testimony from all sides. Agency personnel then deliberate and issue their decision.
The whole process takes about a year, Shevlin said.
At the May 2 town meeting, that article to amend zoning bylaws and remove the special permit stipulation received 725 of 1,136 votes, 25 votes short of attaining the two-thirds majority required to pass. In response, selectmen voted 4-1 Monday night to reaffirm their support for CVEC’s quest to obtain an exemption.
“The view of the majority of the board is that 64 percent (of town meeting voters) wanted the turbine issue to move forward. That’s a large percentage,” selectmen chairman Ed Lewis said Tuesday.
Selectmen seem to be willing to do anything to accomplish their goals, even negating the will of one-third of voters at the meeting, Relin said.
“They are marginalizing the vote of the people they don’t agree with,” Relin charged.
Selectman Peter Norton was the lone dissenter Monday night, opposing the exemption even though he supported it in March and is in favor of building the turbines.
Lewis said the majority of the board, and residents, still believe the turbine project is in the best interest of the town.
“It’s not that those opposed to the project are being marginalized. We just disagree with them that the problems they say are going to happen, will happen,” Lewis said.
Opponents claim that noise and flickering shadows from the turbines could cause health problems and that would affect property values.
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