KINGSTON – A new section in the town’s zoning bylaws could regulate the amount of flicker allowed to impact neighboring homes when new turbines are sited in town.
The discussion on flicker regulations will follow discussion of a proposed moratorium on medical marijuana treatment center in town. Both are part of a public hearing on proposed changes to the town’s zoning bylaws. The Planning Board hearing is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12.
The proposed limit for purposes of the hearing is 30 hours per year. Anyone who proposes a wind turbine in town would have to prove this limit would not be exceeded.
The proposed bylaw change states, “Wind turbines shall be sited in a manner that minimizes shadowing or flicker impacts. The applicant has the burden of proving that this effect does not have significant adverse impact, in excess of 30 hours per year, on neighboring or adjacent uses through either siting or mitigation.”
Controversy has surrounded the impact of the Independence wind turbine and developer Mary O’Donnell’s three turbines. When these projects were approved by the Planning Board, there were no flicker regulations.
The Planning Board did not require a flicker study when the Independence turbine project was approved. The concern was raised that the turbines not exceed 60 revolutions per minute due to the adverse impact on people with epilepsy.
In Kingston, a Green Community, wind turbines are permitted by-right, while other communities may have a special permit process for the siting of wind turbines.
Monday night, there were still questions at the Board of Health meeting about whether the Planning Board’s flicker regulation within the zoning bylaw would impact existing turbines.
Town Planner Tom Bott said he has provided that answer to the board and to residents who have asked this question. He said the answer is no.
“Zoning is not retroactive,” he said. “This would be for any future siting of turbines.”
The Board of Health intends to develop its own flicker regulations pertaining to health impacts. Board members plan to hire an independent engineer to review any studies of the local turbines. The health agent will reach out to six companies about setting up interviews.
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