DUXBURY – Members of Duxbury Wind Wise contend that the town’s wind facilities bylaw needs to be strengthened to protect the health and safety of Duxbury residents.
Alternative Energy Committee members want to convince voters at Town Meeting that the bylaw doesn’t need to change.
Selectmen voted 2-1 Monday night against recommending changes to the town’s wind facilities bylaw to Town Meeting. Selectmen did agree, however, to follow through on Wind Wise member Chris Sherman’s suggestion that the board consider adding two representatives from Duxbury Wind Wise to the AEC.
Selectmen Chairman Shawn Dahlen and Selectman Ted Flynn agreed with the Planning Board that the warrant article be postponed indefinitely, while Selectman Chris Donato voted to recommend the changes to Town Meeting.
“Let’s at least take a hard look at it together rather than kill the bylaw,” Flynn said.
Duxbury Wind Wise proposes changes in the setbacks and height of community-scale wind facilities. Wind turbines would be restricted to 225 feet in height, instead of 250-feet, and the minimum setback to the nearest property line would be 15 times the total height, or 3,375 feet, instead of 275 feet for a 250-foot turbine.
Hounds Ditch Lane resident Ellen Nolan said there are no guarantees a wind turbine project won’t be proposed before the end of any 10-year agreement the town has with solar energy companies to enter into solar power agreements.
“Two hundred and seventy-five feet does not protect my family,” she said.
The so-called short-form citizen peitition for changes to the town’s wind facilities bylaw will be on the warrant for the Saturday, March 10, Town Meeting. An alternative long-form proposal was removed from the warrant by selectmen Monday night after all citizens who signed the petition in the first place signed off on its withdrawal.
The AEC originally proposed a warrant article seeking funding for further studies of a potential wind turbine site at North Hill Reservation, but that article was pulled from the warrant with the AEC pursuing multiple solar power projects in town instead.
Duxbury Wind Wise spokesman Jack Murphy said the proposed bylaw changes don’t rule out or kill wind projects in Duxbury, as Flynn said.
Murphy said wind turbine technology is still relatively new, and the technology will evolve so that responsible placement of wind turbines all the town’s residents can support may be possible.
“We want the bylaw to protect the entire community, not a few residents,” he said. “This isn’t just about Hounds Ditch.”
AEC Chairman Jim Goldenberg disagreed that the bylaw changes won’t put an end to any possible wind energy projects. He said the new setback requirement rules out the entire town.
“It will in no uncertain terms kill wind development in Duxbury,” he said.
Goldenberg also accused Duxbury Wind Wise of taking some information out of context in Murphy’s presentation, specificially as it relates to community-scale wind turbines as opposed to industrial-scale turbines. He opposes any changes to the bylaw.
Goldenberg also referenced a recent state study released by the Department of Public Health and Department of Environmental Health that indicates there are no health impacts from wind turbines.
Hounds Ditch Lane resident Joanne Levesque took issue with Goldenberg’s summary of the state study, calling it a falsehood that it’s been concluded there are no negative health impacts. She said the panel that conducted the study indicated that there is insufficient evidence to suggest that wind turbines do or do not have an effect on health.
“My fear is you’re relying on a committee that wants to deny there is a problem with wind turbines and health impacts,” she said.
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