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SHELBURNE – A day after the town received residents’ petition to ban commercial-scale wind turbine facilities, the Planning Board learned of a new wind farm proposal from Frederick Field, who had filed a special permit application for a 20 megawatt, eight turbine wind facility on Mount Massaemet last year.
“Twenty megawatts is too big,” said Field, referring to last year’s proposal, “I learned that. I came along and redesigned this whole project, based on this model bylaw,” he said, handing the board a template developed by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.
Field waved a thick pile of pages that he said was a 100-page proposal for a wind facility that was ready to be submitted and which complied with the Department of Energy Resources bylaw.
He said the site near Mount Massaemet is probably the only place in town with potential for commercial wind development, and with it comes the opportunity for lower utility bills, local jobs and revenues for the town.
But he was stopped from going into more detail by Planning Board Chairman V. Matthew Marchese, who told him the presentation was “inappropriate,” since the Planning Board was there to discuss a future wind bylaw, not a specific wind turbine project.
Field said that four farming families wanted to put up a facility, and that the town’s zoning bylaws allow for an electricity generation facility.
Marchese said he thought Field had come to Wednesday’s board meeting to discuss a future wind turbine bylaw, and apologized for any misunderstanding.
“What we want to do is resubmit this,” said Field. “Ask the (Zoning Board of Appeals) to tell us what they would like for information.”
Marchese told him the Planning Board is trying to develop its own wind turbine bylaw which would clarify what would be required in a wind farm for the town.
Later in the evening, when asked if he is going to resubmit a new proposal for a wind facility, Field said he would wait for the bylaw process to go forward.
Earlier, Peggy Sloan, planning director of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, told the board that Shelburne has been awarded a $5,000 technical assistance grant to hire a consultant that could help the board with the process of developing a wind turbine bylaw that meets the town’s needs. She said the grant must be used by December, which is a “very tight” schedule for the bylaw process, which generally takes about a year. The board hopes to bring a wind turbine bylaw to annual town meeting in 2013.
The board is also looking into an offer of assistance made in a recent presentation by Tyler Studds of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center; however that assistance, may require some type of matching funds from the town.
The Planning Board briefly discussed the petition for a commercial wind facility ban, and hope to open the required public hearing about it sometime between April 10 and April 12. The petition asks the town to modify the zoning bylaw to specify that on-premise, residential wind turbines are allowed by special permit, but that commercial wind turbines are excluded from the permissible types of electricity generating facilities allowable within the bylaw.
Marchese said the petition was signed by 49 registered voters and the articles they requested will appear on this year’s annual town meeting warrant.
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