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Windmill delay gets AG’s OK

SHELBURNE – The attorney general has OK’d the town’s one-year moratorium on windmills and a zoning ban of commercial electric generating windmills,” while allowing smaller-scale turbines for homes, farms or businesses.

In a letter to Town Clerk Beverly Neeley, the Attorney General’s Office affirmed all the related windmill bylaw amendments approved by voters at the May 1 annual town meeting, but added caveats that the wind turbine moratorium, which will expire on June 30, 2013, should be a temporary measure.

“We approve the amendments adopted under article 20 because the town has the authority to adopt a moratorium for a limited duration in order to study the impact of such uses on the town,” the letter states. “However, such a moratorium must have a reasonable time limitation and must be directly related to legitimate planning goals in order to withstand constitutional scrutiny.”

“We urge the town to consult with town counsel and the Department of Energy Resources, Green Communities Division, to assist the town with its planning for wind energy,” the letter concludes.

Also approved by the AG’s office were amendments to start the annual town meeting earlier in the evening and to move the date of annual town election from June to the third Monday in May.

Articles 17 through 19 were petitioned articles placed on the warrant by residents who were concerned about a proposed commercial-scale wind farm for Mount Massaemet – a proposal that has since been withdrawn.

The first three articles were to define wind turbine systems for premises use and to require a special permit process for development of them.

Article 19 specifies that coal, nuclear power and wind turbine systems are excluded from allowable “commercial electric generating facilities” under the town’s zoning bylaw.