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Shelburne Falls passes wind farm ban, but developers may have a loophole

Residents of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts passed two controversial proposals at the town’s annual meeting Tuesday night to limit commercial wind power development. But developers may have found a legal loophole around the town’s opposition.

More than 300 people flocked to the meeting to vote on the two proposals: one, submitted by the town’s planning board, called for a year-long moratorium on wind turbines, while the second, filed by a group of forty-six residents, proposed a permanent ban on commercial-scale projects.

Janet Sinclair, an opponent from nearby Buckland who’s watched the Shelburne Falls events closely, says both proposals easily passed at the meeting, including the moratorium, which passed unanimously.

“The landowners and the developer, they’re claiming to want to know how the town felt before they went forward. Now they know how the town feels, so I guess the ball’s in their court.”

But just a day before town meeting, the developers of the proposed Mount Massaemet wind farm submitted a subdivision plan to the town zoning board. Planning board chairman Matt Marchese says that if the subdivision plan is approved, it could provide the developers with a legal route around the moratorium and ban. A representative of Mount Massaemet Windfarm Incorporated declined to comment.