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Wind power: Town taking ‘baby steps’

STONINGTON – After making several changes in a proposed regulation for small wind power systems, Planning and Zoning commissioners will continue deliberating at their Oct. 4 meeting. If approved, the regulation would allow small home wind systems, as opposed to larger commercial systems like the one that rises above the skyline in New Haven.

Commissioners on Tuesday discussed the proposal’s details, such as allowable decibel levels. When given a choice, they tended to move toward more restrictions, rather than less. The commission is taking “baby steps” with windpower regulations, noted Commissioner Ben Tamsky.

The proposal calls for limiting small wind systems to lots of at least 40,000 square feet, or just under an acre.

Tamsky called that restriction “discriminatory,” and said he would like to see smaller lots included. Commissioner Robert Marseglia suggested they see how the first windpower projects develop before expanding the number of lots that can have them.

Commissioners also discussed whether to limit the number of wind-energy conversion systems that one lot could have. Several mentioned restricting commercial lots to two systems and residential lots to one system. “We need to not let these things get out of control,” said Commissioner John Prue.

There was also a lengthy discussion on what color the wind systems could be, with Marseglia noting that some people might want unusual colors that would not fit into the neighborhood. He suggested that the regulations require non-reflective finishes and natural colors.

“The risk is reflection,” said alternate Commissioner Curtis Lynch.

“No, the risk is purple,” Marseglia replied.

“Purple is as natural as brown,” added Tamsky, who said he would rather not legislate taste. He also noted that a system’s color would be decided by the manufacturer, not the homeowner.

A motion to approve the regulation, which would be the first zoning regulation for wind-energy systems in town, is pending.