NEW IPSWICH – The Temple and New Ipswich Select Boards have decided to band together to oppose Timbertop Wind’s application to the state Site Evaluation Committee that is requesting the state take jurisdiction over a proposed wind farm that would occupy both towns.
On Dec. 21, Timbertop Wind filed a request with the SEC to have the state regulatory committee take over the approval of the project, arguing that because the wind facility would stretch across two towns, it is a regional project.
The project is proposed to be constructed on Kidder Mountain, and would consist of five turbines, two in New Ipswich and three in Temple. The development would have a total capacity of 15 megawatts of energy.
The New Ipswich Select Board met with representatives from the Planning Board on Tuesday, during the Select Board’s regularly scheduled meeting, to discuss the town’s options moving forward. The first step, it was decided, is to provide a united front with Temple to let the SEC know that the towns would prefer the project remain in the hands of the local municipal boards.
The SEC will nominate a subcommittee to review Timbertop’s application for jurisdiction in the coming weeks. If the committee decides the application is complete, there will be a public hearing on the issue, and that is the time the towns will be allowed to make their opinion known. In the past, other towns faced with large-scale wind projects have requested the SEC step in, as boards felt under-qualified to make the decision. But in New Ipswich and Temple, the boards have decided they want to maintain control.
New Ipswich’s and Temple’s large-scale wind ordinances allow up to 33 decibels of noise anywhere on the property of a non-participating landowner. They do not set specific height or setback measurements.
Adam Cohen, vice-president of Timbertop Wind, was not in favor of the noise restrictions when they were adopted in 2012, telling the boards they were too restrictive to allow any significant wind facility to be built in town.
“All these people have worked hard [on the large-scale wind ordinance]. Whether you’re for them or not, they were passed with a fairly good majority,” said Select Board Chair George Lawrence. “It would be too bad for us as boards to disregard what people voted and say, ‘OK state, you take it.’ I think everyone worked too hard on it, and we need to have some sort of a handle on it.”
“That is my position,” agreed Planning Board Chair Ed Dekker.
Dekker said while the SEC could decide to take Temple and New Ipswich’s wind ordinance’s into account, it was not bound by them.
Lawrence agreed to contact the Temple Planning and Select Boards to arrange a joint meeting between those boards and their New Ipswich counterparts.
Both towns should agree to hire one lawyer to represent both town’s interests, he suggested.
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