October 14, 2011

Ipswich Town Meeting won’t take up turbine; Warrant article postponed until Nov. 14

By Bethany Bray, Staff Writer, The Salem News, www.salemnews.com 14 October 2011

A controversial plan to erect a second wind turbine on Town Farm Road won’t come up for a vote at Town Meeting on Monday.

A warrant article to authorize selectmen to rent a parcel of town-owned land for a privately built wind turbine will be postponed on the floor of Monday’s Town Meeting, said Tim Henry, director of Ipswich’s utility department.

Instead, a Special Town Meeting has been called for Nov. 14 to vote on the issue.

The postponement is due to a slight mix-up on the turbine’s proposed location. Monday’s warrant identifies the location with an out-of-date lot and parcel number, Henry said.

“It was a technical flaw that has caused us not to go forward with that (Monday’s) warrant article,” he said. “… We knew it was critical that this was properly done.”

The new turbine would be owned, operated and maintained by D&C Construction of Rockland and built on town land, not far from the existing turbine at the end of Town Farm Road.

The proposed turbine is expected to provide 4 percent of the town’s energy needs, Henry said.

Although still in its infancy, the project has met opposition from some in town. Residents, many from neighborhoods near the turbine site, have raised concerns about the financial implications of contracting with a private company, about noise and about the effect on property values.

D&C has applied for a special permit from the Planning Board to build the turbine. The board held a well-attended hearing on the project Oct. 6, which is continued to Oct. 27.

In addition to the Planning Board, the project would need approval from selectmen and the Nov. 14 Town Meeting.

D&C would pay to lease the land from the town and would also pay property taxes, which Henry estimated as $1 million over 20 years. In turn, D&C would sell the power the turbine produces to the town of Ipswich.

The Utility Department’s electric light subcommittee is currently negotiating an agreement to purchase 100 percent of the power the new turbine produces, Henry said.

Ipswich’s first wind turbine, built in a partnership between the town utility company and public schools, was constructed through the spring and began to generate power in the last week of May.

If the second wind turbine receives the proper permits and approvals, D&C would start construction immediately, Henry said.

“We’re focusing on having it operational before the end of 2012,” he said.

Budget, zoning changes

For the first time since 1981, a new face will be behind the moderator’s podium at Town Meeting on Monday. Attorney Tom Murphy fills the shoes of longtime Moderator James Grimes, who decided not to run for re-election in May after leading Ipswich Town Meetings for 30 years.

With the wind turbine article being postponed, Murphy will work through roughly one dozen budget transfers and tweaks to town bylaws and zoning requirements.

The evening’s first article may generate some heat from residents loyal to the Recreation Department. Among the article’s five budget transfers are three that would take a total of $51,000 from the Recreation Department’s budget to pay for other needs, including a new police cruiser.

Ipswich’s Recreation Department was the subject of controversy this summer, as Town Manager Bob Markel unveiled a plan to restructure the small department.

Originally a full-time position, the director’s job was cut to a part-time, 10-hour-per-week position, and the department began to coordinate programs with the public schools and the YMCA.

The changes – most notably the savings in salary – leave the Recreation Department funds unused and ready for transfer by Town Meeting, Markel said.

The transfers include $15,000 to paint and replace carpeting in an area of the library damaged by an ice dam last winter, $12,000 for brickwork at the fire station on Central Street and $24,000 for a new police cruiser.

The new cruiser would replace an older model with 120,000 miles on it, Markel said. The $24,000 would be combined with $6,100 from the Police Department budget to cover the vehicle’s full cost.

The $12,000 in “tuck point” brickwork on the fire station is needed to keep the walls from collapsing, Markel said.

Staff writer Bethany Bray can be reached at bbray@salemnews.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.


Monday, Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m.

Ipswich High School, Performing Arts Center, 134 High St.

The full warrant and other details are posted at www.ipswichma.gov (in the “latest news” box on the right-hand side)

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2011/10/14/ipswich-town-meeting-wont-take-up-turbine-warrant-article-postponed-until-nov-14/