WAREHAM – The Zoning Board of Appeals delayed a decision on a wind turbine proposal until the state Attorney General’s Office reviews a bylaw change that puts the project in jeopardy.
Town Meeting last month repealed a wind energy bylaw, potentially undercutting the two-turbine project known as Bog Wind. The zoning board’s attorney, Jon Witten, says the developer’s failure to file specific planning documents before Town Meeting means the project is not grandfathered.
The zoning board decided Wednesday to resume the hearing on the turbine proposal Oct. 26, allowing time for the Attorney General’s Office to complete the customary review of the bylaw change.
The project’s developer, Glen Berkowitz, said afterwards that Town Meeting repealed the bylaw after being told by officials his project would not be affected, and he hopes the Attorney General’s Office rejects the bylaw change or at least exempts his project.
“We hope the AG finds procedural defects in the process and public discussion,” he said.
Officials and town counsel made comments at selectmen and Planning Board meetings on the repeal, and on Town Meeting night, that suggested a “yes” vote would not hinder the Bog Wind project, Berkowitz said.
On a second front, he will seek legal opinion to rebut Witten’s contention that the project isn’t grandfathered, so he could try to go forward even if the repeal is allowed to stand.
During the meeting, Witten said the zoning board did not provide false hope or misinformation regarding grandfather protections and, even if someone makes claims about protections, it doesn’t change the rules.
The only thing that could change the situation is disapproval by the Attorney General’s Office, he told the zoning board members.
Under the current proposal, Berkowitz’s company, Beaufort Windpower LLC, is seeking to build two nearly 400-foot turbines, to be located at Parker Mills North Bog and Barker Bog off Charge Pond Road. The company had scaled back an earlier proposal to construct six 500-foot-tall wind turbines on cranberry bogs.
At earlier meetings, opponents had argued the turbines would be a nuisance to neighbors and a drag on residential property values.
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