WESTMINSTER – The Planning Board completed its suggested wind-power ordinance Monday and is holding a public hearing next month for public input.
Town Planner Stephen Wallace said the idea is to allow small-scale commercial wind farms into the town that go just above the treeline, not industrial-scale behemoths.
At the May 5 Town Meeting, voters approved the creation of zoning bylaws in the town for power-generating windmills. Wallace said the next step was for Planning Board members to draft regulations detailing how those wind farms operate.
One of those restrictions is a height limit for the windmills. At the top of its cycle, the blade of the windmill can extend up to 225 feet in the air. For comparison, the two windmills at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner reach about 400 feet high when fully extended.
Wallace said the rest of the regulations govern noise, shadow flicker and other site details. Because of the limited size of the windmills, he said impact on birds are not covered by the ordinances.
The proposed regulations can be viewed at Town Hall during normal business hours.
There are seven or eight locations around Westminster that are suitable for wind farms, according to Wallace, most of which are in the north part of town.
One of those locations is Whitmanville Farm on South Ashburnham Road. Lifelong Westminster resident Eino Jarvenpaa, 82, said he was looking at putting windmills on the family farm but is no longer interested. He said the ordinances look great, but the cost estimates are too high.
“I’ll be dead for 20 years before the payback breaks even,” said Jarvenpaa. He declined to divulge the cost to install the windmills to avoid being bombarded with rival sale offers from energy companies.
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