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Wind turbine hearing postponed to January

DARTMOUTH – A public hearing on Thomas and Susan Kirby’s application for a special permit to erect a wind turbine on a 50-meter tower at 264 Smith Neck Road was postponed until Jan. 9 by the Select Board Monday night.

Town officials said the application filed by Kirby is incomplete, and fails to meet the guidelines established by the town’s commercial wind turbine zoning bylaw.

At the start of Monday night’s public hearing, Mr. Kirby requested a continuance, saying he needed more time “so I can figure out what my options are” and submit a revised application.

With an audience of more than 40 concerned residents in the meeting room, town officials were pressed for details on why the hearing was being postponed.

Executive Administrator David Cressman said the current application, for a turbine atop a 50-meter tower, lacks a business plan and fails to meet setbacks required by the town’s turbine bylaw.

He suggested a revised application propose “either a 40-meter tower or something else that meets the town’s zoning bylaw.” The town’s Technical Review Group (TRG) has also recommended a noise study be conducted, he indicated.

Select Board member Lara Stone, the board’s representative on the TRG, confirmed that the advisory group had requested a noise impact study be conducted as part of a peer review of the project. She said the TRG did not vote to recommend the application after a recent meeting, suggesting “there is not enough information right now for us to make a recommendation.”

Stone urged the Kirbys to accept the offer of a neighborhood group to pay for half of a new acoustic impact study.

She said the TRG will meet again before the Jan. 9 public hearing to review changes to the plans, and finalize its recommendation to the Select Board, the special permit granting authority under the turbine bylaw.

Select Board Chairman Michael Watson asked Mr. Kirby to submit the revised application by Dec. 16 so that the TRG and the Select Board will have time to review the new information before the public hearing.

Attorney Christopher Senie, representing a group of neighbors, told the Select Board that the continuance “is a very good idea” because the plans weren’t ready for a public hearing.

He said his clients’ offer to pay for a more comprehensive noise study comes with no strings attached. “We would have no say in who does the peer review,” he indicated, noting the TRG has the right to select the independent consultants needed.