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Shelburne Planning Board pursues wind moratorium  

Credit:  By Cameron Graves, Shelburne Falls & West County Independent, 6 April 2012 ~~

SHELBURNE – After consulting Town Counsel Donna MacNicol, the Shelburne Planning Board voted Tuesday, April 3 to propose a temporary moratorium on wind power applications – until the 2013 annual town meeting.

The moratorium would cover all current zoning districts, and is to allow the board time to research and adopt a wind turbine-siting bylaw for those districts.

The moratorium language was drafted from that used by the towns of Heath and Colrain ana, once MacNicol approves it, the wording will be posted by legal notice in newspapers before a public hearing, anticipated to be in late April.

The moratorium public hearing can be continued, but must close before the May 1 annual town meeting.

The same procedure applies to a public hearing regarding a citizens’ petition article received by the Planning Board on March 21 that would amend current zoning bylaws to allow turbine systems that power home and businesses but ban industrial wind, coal and nuclear electricity-generating facilities. A public hearing about the petition is set for Tuesday, April 10 at 7 p.m. in the Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School.

If either public hearing does not close on time, the attorney general can reject the respective article, even if voters approve it at annual meeting.

Planning Board Chair Matt Marchese said Tuesday that he hopes to meet with selectmen April 9, when the sequence of annual town meeting warrant articles will be arranged. The Planning Board would like to address the moratorium article directly before the petition article and for both to be high on the warrant so that they can be discussed as early as possible.

The local planners noted that ifthe petition article is approved by voters, the moratorium article would become moot as the two articles are in conflict – the proposed moratorium is to allow work on a bylaw regarding all types of wind projects, including industrial wind projects, which the petition asks voters to ban. Either article requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass.

The next Planning Board meeting is Wednesday, April 11 at the Elementary School. Marchese said that he is interested in starting discussion about constructing a solar bylaw, maybe even requesting a solar moratorium, “just in case a large solar project application comes in and blindsides us.”

The petition includes three articles and contains 45 signatures, more than the 10 signatures necessary to be included on the May 1 annual town meeting warrant. The majority of signatures are from Patten Hill and Shelburne Center residents who live in close proximity to the site on Mt.Massaemet where Shelburne native Frederick “Don” Field had proposed to build an eight turbine, 20-megawatt wind farm in August.

The proposed first article would amend zoning bylaws by adding a special permit requirement for all premise-usage wind turbine systems in all five zones: rural agricultural, village rural, village commercial, commercial and industrial.

The second would add a “Wind Turbine Systems for Premises Use” section to bylaw definitions, defined as “any system of turbines, whether located on the building or the ground, designed primarily to generate heat or electricity for the principal home or business located on the lot; such systems may generate a limited amount of excess electricity for resale to an electrical utility provided the system is designed principally to supply the electrical needs of the home or business on the lot.”

The third would amend “Commercial Electrical Generating Facilities” in bylaw definitions, defined as “specifically excluding a facility generating electricity from coal, nuclear power, and wind turbine systems, except [under] Wind Turbine Systems for Premises Use.”

The Planning Board has also accepted Franklin Regional Council of Governments’ (FRCOG) Planning and Development Director Peggy Sloan’s consulting offer and has been awarded a $5,000 technical assistance grant through FRCOG.

“The board has nine months to use the funds,” she said. “One suggestion is to work with another community, such as Buckland, to develop a wind facilities bylaw. Buckland has already allocated $5,000 to develop their own wind facilities bylaw.”

Planning Board members here are also considering the services of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.

Source:  By Cameron Graves, Shelburne Falls & West County Independent, 6 April 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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