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Greenwood ponders future wind policy

Greenwood selectmen and Planning Board officials recently discussed ideas for a proposed wind power ordinance to be crafted for a vote next year.

Plans originally called for an ordinance proposal from the Planning Board for next month’s annual town meeting, but selectmen earlier this month decided to postpone it to allow more research and to study Woodstock’s recently-approved wind ordinance.

Planning Board Chair Dave Brainard and Vice-Chair Larry Merloni offered some thoughts on how to proceed.

Merloni expressed concern that an ordinance that is too restrictive might prompt lawsuits from a wind company wanting to develop a project.

Woodstock’s ordinance requires a one-mile setback from neighboring property lines to minimize noise, which is the most common wind turbine-related complaint. Merloni said setbacks of that magnitude could be “a recipe for disaster.”

Instead, he suggested putting responsibility for negative impacts on the developer in the permitting process.

Greenwood, he said, should “look at this regulation aspect from the side that says, ‘You’re coming in to set up a commercial wind farm, and here’s our site plan and rules. Here’s information – come back and tell us how you will deal with it if it becomes an issue with people in the community you’re going to affect,’ and then back and forth, and come up with an informed decision on our part to grant or not grant, based on what they tell us, instead of writing up rules that most probably would become so restrictive that they will seek to overturn the rules.”

The town officials also had a wide-ranging discussion on other towns’ experiences with wind power, as well as individual sensitivities to the sound they generate. Some said that while the level of sound might appear minimal to a visitor, it might require prolonged exposure to get a better sense of the effect.

The officials also said Greenwood could vote for a moratorium on wind projects until an ordinance is developed, should there be indications that one was on the horizon.