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Wind turbine moratorium proposed

BUCKLAND – Selectmen and Planning Board members are pondering whether Buckland needs a bylaw to govern wind turbine projects.

“Being a small rural town we really want some expertise ,” Town Administrator Andrea Llamas said at the Feb. 28 selectmen’s meeting. “We need time.”

She suggested that a moratorium on wind turbine construction be adopted until the Planning Board has sufficient information to write a bylaw.

In the discussion that followed, someone asked whether the town’s 50-footheight restriction would apply, automatically disqualifying wind turbines. But it was generally agreed that different rules would likely apply to wind turbines.

Selectman Kevin Fox asked whether the bylaw might cover solar arrays as well as wind farms. He said some folks want to erect them on Agriculture Preservation-restricted and Chapter 61A land, but the “reflectivity” of solar arrays can be an issue and there are no rules for setting them up.

Selectmen’s Chair Robert Dean asked, “How does having a bylaw affect us as a Green Community?”

He noted that in accepting a $134,150 grant (the oversized check adorns one wall of the selectmen’s meeting room), the town is supposed to pursue alternative [forms of energy generation].

“We did accept the grant, but not at all costs,” Fox said. Until they know more, no final decisions can be made.

A public hearing will be scheduled to discuss whether to accept a moratorium on wind turbine construction, to be followed by a vote on the moratorium at town meeting. If approved, the Planning Board will begin the process of writing a bylaw.

Heath voters agreed at the end of February to enact a four-month moratorium on wind and solar cell systems capable of generating more than 35 kilowatts of energy. There the Planning Board may bring a zoning bylaw to May annual town meeting or request an extension to the now temporary moratorium. Shelburne planners continue to consider a bylaw or moratorium ameandment.