It’s back to air one when it comes to wind power in Wareham.
Town meeting voters resoundingly backed an article Tuesday night to repeal sections in Article 5 in the town’s bylaws permitting wind energy facilities.
Article proponent and former Selectman Brenda Eckstrom said the bylaw was initially passed under the guise that it was exploratory in nature, not to make way for actual wind turbine projects. She said the town needed to “take a step back,” and investigate wind power farming’s “total ramifications” on the community.
In addition to repealing the wind permitting sections in Article 5, the article establishes a seven-member committee, consisting of two residents, 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.
The committee is charged with doing “a complete study of the effects of wind turbines on the town of Wareham.”
The study will be submitted for voters’ perusal at the 2012 Spring Town Meeting.
And while the study committee will be asked to come up with its own recommendations on the advisability of permitting wind turbines in town, it is not asked to present a new bylaw permitting wind farms in 2012.
Town meeting voters rejected a Planning Board amendment that would have added two members to the committee – a planning board member and a member of the Board of Health – and would have stepped up the timetable in presenting its recommendations to the Fall 2011 Town Meeting.
In arguing against the amendment, Eckstrom said the idea was to take time to study the issue. She said her grandfather, a carpenter, used to say, “Measure twice, cut once.”
Selectman J. Michael Schneider said in supporting the bylaw’s repeal that it was “a quality of life” issue, potentially impacting residents’ health as well as property values in town.
Selectman Ellen Begley also supported the article, saying, “I urge you to vote yes on this,” adding that residents had to be “reactive” when applying the current bylaw to the Beaufort Windpower plan to develop wind turbines in town.
That plan has been scaled back from six, 492-foot turbines to two, 398-foot turbines and is the only plan on the books currently qualifying to be grandfathered in and not subject to what is now in effect a ban on wind farm development in Wareham.
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