August 24, 2013

Plymouth Planning Board backs change to wind power bylaw; Proposal would limit wind turbines to 100 feet

By Emily Dravenstadt | Wicked Local Plymouth | Posted Aug 24, 2013 |

PLYMOUTH – With wind turbine proposals popping up all over town, several of them abutting residential areas, many neighbors and town officials have been clamoring for more stringent bylaws pertaining to the location of these behemoths and how high they should be allowed to soar.

This week, three of the five members of the Planning Board recommended doing just that.

The board voted, 3-2, in favor of a proposed amendment to the town’s zoning bylaws that would create a Wind Facilities Overlay District, which would corral wind turbines greater than 100 feet in height within its borders. Wind turbines proposed outside of this new zone could not exceed that height.

The proposed amendment goes further to prohibit wind turbines greater than 350 feet in height (to the tip of the blade) and to make the noise and flicker requirements more stringent. Revisions are also proposed to the bonding and removal requirements and would bolster abutter notification requirements.

So, where would this overlay district be located?

The footprint would extend in and around Camelot Industrial Park, off Long Pond Road, and include the Plymouth Industrial Park. The current requirement that a super majority of the Zoning Board of Appeals (four of the five members) vote to issue a special permit would not change.

Planning Board Chairman Paul McAlduff and Planning Board member Bill Wennerberg voted against the proposed amendment.

McAlduff said the 100-foot limit renders the installation of wind turbines completely unfeasible since heights greater than that are required to generate energy.

Town officials have been considering more stringent restrictions on wind turbine project for months.

Last year, a proposal to impose a two-year moratorium on wind turbine proposals greater than 100 feet was struck down on the floor of Town Meeting. But it wasn’t exactly dead. Soon thereafter, the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board enlisted the Energy Committee to review the existing bylaw and consider modifications to it. After a series of meetings and careful debate on the subject, the Energy Committee voted to recommend adoption of the amendments to the bylaw that the Planning Board supported Monday night.

The proposal is now headed to the fall session of Town Meeting, where its passage requires a two-thirds vote of approval from Town Meeting representatives.

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