SOUTH DENNIS – With many eyes turned to Barnstable County’s plan to purchase the 39.7-acre Aquacultural Research Corporation property adjacent to Chapin Beach, Dennis residents are wondering if the town will continue its support of the 600-kilowatt wind turbine that ARC owners Dick Kraus, Gail Hart and Susan Machie say is necessary to defray the company’s energy costs.
On Tuesday night, following selectmen Chairman Paul McCormick’s announcement that his board will decide in late August whether or not to continue its support of the turbine, Richard Watts of Dennis asked what the town’s interests are in the project.
Selectman Wayne Bergeron said he’s concerned that the “creative” concept of a visual abutter seems to mean that anyone can appeal a project just because they can see it. “I don’t like to see people in court because they don’t like the looks of something,” he said. Selectmen are working to determine how much power the regional Old King’s Highway Historic District Commission has over the local historic committee.
Following the local Old King’s Highway Committee’s approval of the turbine project in 2010, Dennis resident Rosemarie Austin appealed the decision. Designating herself as a “visual abutter,” Austin said the turbine would spoil her view from her home at 27 Spadoni Way. The regional commission overturned the local board’s ruling, putting a hold on the project. Orleans District Court Judge Brian Merrick approved Dennis selectmen’s petition to intervene as a party of interest.
Watts now argues that the town can only be an aggrieved party if it has a financial interest in the project. But Bergeron disagreed. “I would argue that there’s a right to have wind energy,” he said. Selectmen will continue to gather information and discuss this matter in executive session.
In the meantime, Bill Clark, director of the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, said the $4 million purchase-and-sale agreement between the county and ARC has not been finalized. “We’re making progress, though,” Clark said Wednesday morning. “I’m working on getting the towns to agree on the user fee to buy the land.”
Clark has asked the shellfish wardens in each Cape town if they would be willing to tack a $10 fee onto their recreational licenses and a $50 fee onto their commercial licenses. “Chatham and Brewster have approved the request,” Clark said. “I’m meeting with Dennis tonight and with Barnstable in a few weeks.”
With unanimous approval from the Assembly of Delegates and support from county commissioners, Clark hopes to seal the deal within six months. To fund the project, he must raise $800,000 and be able to borrow $3.2 million. “If all the towns are on board, we can borrow at a conservative 4 percent on a 20-year note,” he said.
The county is asking ARC to put $1 million of its money into rebuilding the hatchery in return for a 20-year lease to run the business on county land. “We think that’s a fair deal, and our funding plan makes sense,” Clark said. “If you play golf, you pay to use the golf course. If you have a boat, you pay for a slip at the marina. If you’re a recreational or commercial fisherman, you pay to keep the hatchery open.”
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