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Second Ipswich turbine heads to Town Meeting

IPSWICH – A parcel of conservation land has been ruled out as a site for a second wind turbine on Town Farm Road.

Residents can weigh in on the proposed turbine, to be built by a private company on land leased from the town, at Town Meeting next month.

The turbine is now proposed for a piece of non-conservation land 1,500 feet from the existing wind turbine on Town Farm Road.

Last week, D&C Construction, the Rockland company looking to build the turbine, withdrew its land-swap application with the Ipswich Conservation Commission, which was needed because the initial site D&C had chosen for the turbine was under the care and custody of the commission.

If built, the new turbine would be a private project, owned, operated and maintained by D&C Construction; the town would draft an agreement to receive wind power produced by the turbine.

Although still in its infancy, the project has met opposition from some in town. Numerous residents – many from North Ridge Road, which overlooks the salt marsh and existing turbine – have raised concerns about myriad issues, from the impact on the area to the risks of entering into a contract with a private company for a second turbine so soon after the town’s first was built.

Even with the Conservation Commission removed from the issue, the turbine still needs approval by selectmen, Town Meeting and the Planning Board.

“There’s a lot of public process ahead,” Town Manager Bob Markel said. “Everyone will have an opportunity to be heard.”

On Monday, selectmen voted to put an article on the Oct. 17 Town Meeting warrant that would give the board authority to enter into a lease of the town-owned parcel for the purposes of building a wind turbine.

If approved, selectmen would have the power to draft a lease of up to 25 years.

The existing wind turbine, built in a partnership between the town utility company and public schools, became operational in May. The proposed second turbine would also be built at the end of Town Farm Road, east of the first turbine.

Kially Ruiz, wind consultant for D&C Construction, sent an email to Ipswich Conservation Agent David Pancoast Sept. 14 to withdraw their application for the conservation land swap.

Although the land swap “would have been of ecological and environmental benefit to the public, and would have furthered the public’s interest in providing clean energy, it is our considered decision that we shall not continue to pursue at this time a land swap,” Ruiz wrote. “We conclude that the best approach currently before us is to make every effort to develop the project on existing town-owned land at the adjacent compost facility, even if it results in additional expense in design and construction of the wind turbine generator.”

Calls to Ruiz and Duncan Peterson, vice president of D&C, were not returned before press deadline.