By this time next year, the Falmouth Planning Board hopes to have in place a bylaw for wind turbine siting and review. During a discussion this week of the Falmouth Planning Department’s budget and priorities for Fiscal Year 2013, the planning board named meeting that November 2012 deadline its top goal for the coming year—and there
is a deadline, according to Marlene V. McCollem, assistant town planner, who reminded the board that the town can only extend its moratorium on wind turbine development once more.
The original one-year moratorium was put into effect following a vote at this year’s May Annual Town Meeting. The planning board plans to request a one-year extension at the May 2012 meeting, but “that’s it. We get two” moratoriums, Ms. McCollem said. “I believe we need to have a bylaw by next November’s Town Meeting that goes forward, because if it doesn’t pass, at least we can protect ourselves and pass something in April or May” of 2013, Kenneth W. Medeiros of the planning board said. “Whatever hours we need to put in, we need to have that bylaw created and going to Town Meeting next
November.” However, before the board can draft a bylaw, it first needs to hear from several other agencies conducting related work on the issue of wind turbine siting and
The Cape Cod Commission is still working on a technical bulletin, originally due last month, focusing on turbine noise impacts as part of its onshore wind turbine siting and review regulations, which were approved last April. Those regulations define minimum “clear areas” around turbines for safety reasons and setbacks for noise mitigation purposes, and require noise impact studies for any project with a capacity of 660 kilowatts or more.
Also, a joint Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) /Department of Public Health (DPH) panel is in the process of conducting a health risk assessment study focusing on theoretical health impacts from turbine noise, which could lead to updated statewide standards. The state currently limits a turbine’s sound output to 10 decibels above a particular location’s ambient noise levels as measured from a receptor’s property line, but those standards are considered outdated. The DEP/DPH report was originally due in October.
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