June 12, 2012

Fairhaven planning board to take second look at turbine bylaws

By ARIEL WITTENBERG, www.southcoasttoday.com 12 June 2012

FAIRHAVEN – The Planning Board is reviewing Fairhaven’s wind turbine zoning bylaws, a move that could result in more restrictions on future turbine projects.

Director of Planning and Economic Development Bill Roth said the board is in the “research stage of the process,” and is considering a reduction in the allowed height of wind turbines as well as an increase in the minimum distance turbines can be from residents.

Written in 2004, the town’s current wind bylaws allow turbines to be up to 350 feet tall with a minimum setback of 600 feet from the nearest property line.

“A lot has changed in the eight years since we wrote these,” Roth said. “The information available to us has changed. Our bylaws don’t require any study of flicker because eight years ago no one knew what flicker was. Those are some of the things we are going to be looking at.”

In addition to potentially requiring a flicker study, Roth said the board will consider changing the town’s noise standard. Under current bylaws, turbines can be up to 60 decibels at the nearest property line.

“Hopefully, the noise standard will be more defined,” he said.

Roth said he does not expect the Planning Board to address issues of infrasound (sound that is inaudible to the human ear) because “there’s still a lot of debate on that.”

“You have one side saying it’s made up, and another side saying it’s real,” he said. “I just don’t see how you legislate something like that.”

The new bylaws will not affect the town’s two existing wind turbines located at the wastewater treatment plant.

The board originally wanted to have new bylaws ready for this year’s town meeting, before the treatment-plant turbines became operational, but didn’t have enough time to follow the required procedure, Roth said.

Instead, the board will continue its research phase until late summer, when it will have working groups with community members to discuss the research. The board hopes to draft the bylaw and send it to selectmen by November, with public hearings to be held in January.

The bylaw wouldn’t come into effect until it is passed by the 2013 town meeting, but Roth said “the time to get involved is now in the work sessions in the late summer and early fall.”

Ken Pottel, a member of Windwise, a group that opposes turbines, said he wished the process could move faster, but he’s glad the current bylaws are being reconsidered.

“The way we have it now doesn’t make sense,” he said. “If anyone has a 10-acre lot, they can put in a turbine and there’s nothing anyone could do to stop them. It’s crazy, just crazy.”

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/06/12/fairhaven-planning-board-to-take-second-look-at-turbine-bylaws/