May 25, 2011

Wareham Town Meeting repeals wind energy bylaw

By Cyndi Murray, 24 May 2011

Town Meeting voters repealed the town’s bylaw on Wind Energy Facilities in its entirety Tuesday.

The bylaw, created in 2006, was repealed with the stipulation a Wind Energy Review Committee be formed no later than June 1. The group is charged with writing and presenting recommendations on wind energy and wind turbines at Spring Town Meeting of 2012. The committee’s work will not result in a new bylaw to be voted on at that time.

The seven-member committee will consist of two citizens-at-large, the Town Planner, one member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, one member of the Conservation Commission, one member of the Board of Assessors, and the Director of Inspectional Services.

“I think we need to take a step back,” said Brenda Eckstrom, who petitioned to have the article added to the warrant. “Let’s have our professionals and volunteers do an analysis to review [wind energy and wind turbines] and make an educated decision.”

Planning Board member Alan Slavin told voters the Planning Board believes the existing bylaw is inadequate. The board recommended the Wind Energy Review Committee present its findings at Fall Town Meeting of 2011 and introduce a new wind energy bylaw. That amendment failed to be accepted by voters.

Proponents of the article argued the committee needs to take its time reviewing and studying the longterm impacts wind turbines would have on the community before another bylaw be presented.

“When you’re dealing with scientific issues I can guarantee that you won’t have full answers by Fall 2011,” said resident Ed Pacewicz.

Since the article repealed the bylaw but did not set a timeframe to put in place a revised wind energy bylaw, some voters voiced concerns that a full repeal will indefinitely delay wind energy projects that are currently being looked into by Tobey Hospital and the Sewer Department.

“[The Sewer Department] should have all the data by July and I’d like to move forward with the turbine project,” said Water Pollution Control Facility Director Guy Campinha.

The Bog Wind project will not be impacted by the repeal of the bylaw since it is already before the Zoning Board of Appeals, attorney Rich Bowen explained.

The article passed by a 2/3 vote after nearly an hour of debate.

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