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Stop & Shop withdraws wind turbine request

The zoning hurdle couldn’t be cleared to permit wind turbines at Wayland Town Center.

Weeks of debate culminated in the decision by Stop & Shop to withdraw its application to construct six, 35-foot tall wind turbines at its under-construction Wayland Town Center location.

Stop & Shop first proposed erecting the wind turbines during a Planning Board meeting in March. At that time, the turbines were to be built along a ridge separating Stop & Shop from abutting residential properties. When residents raised concerns about constructing the turbines so close to nearby homes, Stop & Shop altered plans and instead proposed including the turbines atop dual-use light poles in the parking lot.

In the end, however, a zoning issue led Stop & Shop representatives to withdraw their request for the turbines during a public hearing on Tuesday night.

Wayland officials, including town counsel and several Planning Board members, said they did not believe the wind turbines were permitted under the mixed-use overlay zoning district under which Wayland Town Center falls.

The zoning debate centered on whether the turbines could be considered an “accessory use” on the property, which would require them to be, among other things, a customary feature of similar properties.

Tuesday night marked the third night of a continued public hearing. Town Planner Sarkis Sarkisian told board members that between the previous hearing on June 19 and the continuation Tuesday night he had spoken with Wayland’s building commissioner about the issue. Sarkisian said the building commissioner indicated that he did not believe the wind turbines were permitted under the current zoning bylaw and said he would not be willing to issue the permit.

“Our bylaws do not allow this to happen,” Sarkisian said, recommending the Planning Board not approve the request. “It’s not a permitted use.”

Sarkisian went on to say that Wayland as a Green Community should look into creating a zoning bylaw that does lay the groundwork for wind power to be a part of future construction in town. He said Wayland could consider modeling its bylaw’s language on that of other towns that have already established the precedent.

“You want to leave the door open,” Sarkisian said. “[But] at this time, we don’t have the tools to allow such a use to take place.”

Planning Board member Colleen Sheehan asked whether losing the turbines would threaten Stop & Shop’s LEED certification, which prompted the request for the turbines in the first place.

David Campbell, architect for the Stop & Shop project, said the level of LEED certification would be impacted, but that the store would still achieve certification thanks to qualifying features such as solar panels, insulation, LED lighting and other items.

“We commend all your green initiatives on this project,” Sarkisian said. “We welcome you to the town of Wayland. We need to do a little more research and to get a bylaw in place.”

Given the likely outcome of a Planning Board vote on the issue, Stop & Shop representatives requested that the request be withdrawn rather than voted upon. Planning Board members unanimously approved the application’s withdraw.