FAIRHAVEN – The Planning Board started reviewing the town bylaw on wind turbines at an April 3 public hearing and decided to jump start it again after Town Meeting. The board was told by selectmen that they will not hold space for a Town Meeting article on the wind bylaw.
The original intent of the public hearing was to consider two aspects of the bylaw, the height and setbacks. Right now, the height with blades can reach 525 feet and the setback is equal to the height.
Chairman Wayne Hayward of the Planning Board said now that it can’t be on the Town Meeting agenda, the board will “be starting the process all over again, but we’ll look at the entire bylaw this time.”
Other aspects of the bylaw that concerned Planning Board members is the 100-foot setback from a structure, which would be allowed if a turbine was 100-feet tall. The original intent of the setbacks was to keep a turbine from falling on a building, Mr. Hayward said.
Mr. Hayward said there are 88 lots that meet the 10-acre requirement now and they are all over Fairhaven. He said they include 15 on New Boston Road, 15 on Sconticut Neck, and a 33-acre parcel on West Island. Other areas where they could be located include Riverside Cemetery and the Wood School and Ft. Phoenix.
Mr. Hayward said of all the many submissions people made to the board before the hearing, only one recommended both a setback and height restriction. The others all just suggested setbacks. He pointed to a small water bottle and said a small wind turbine shouldn’t have the same distance setback as a major industrial wind turbine.
The one person who suggested both, he said was Kenneth Pottel of Windwise, who suggested a 3,000 foot setback and a 200-foot height to the cell, or 300 feet to the tip of the blade. The turbines at the site off Arsene Street are about 400-feet to the tip of the blade.
Windwise members and residents in the audience wanted the board to consider a moratorium, if not outright banning them, but several board members said they are in favor of wind turbines generally. They said they just want to protect the public by making sure the bylaw doesn’t allow for turbines too close to residences.
Planning Board member Rene Fleurent said he supports wind turbines as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil and Mr. Hayward said, “Not everyone feels they should be banned in town.”
Attorney Ann DeNardis, who represents residents involved in a lawsuit, said, “Not everyone is interested in having more come into this town, either.” She said there is no relation between wind turbines and a reduced dependency on foreign oil.
Planning Board member Gary Staffon was one of few current members who were on the board when the current bylaw was written. At the time, he said, people felt more favorably toward them. He said the board researched regulations in Europe because there weren’t that many in the U.S.
Mr. Staffon said he visited the turbines in Hull and, “I didn’t see a big problem. A guy was power washing his boat when I was there and it was louder than the turbines.”
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