A potential moratorium on new wind turbines in town would be vetted by the Kingston Planning Board, but creating new flicker regulations may be left to the Board of Health – at least initially.
The only flicker regulation on the books is that it not be excessive. The town’s zoning bylaw does not define excessive.
The Planning Board wants to change that for any future projects. The Board of Health wants to quantify how much flicker constitutes a nuisance. Board of Health members have expressed concern about two boards contemplating flicker regulations at the same time and requested a meeting.
Attempting, he said, to set the minds of the Board of Health members at ease, Planning Board member Michael Ruprecht said his board’s focus is on having a regulation in place that can be enforced under subdivision control. He said they should work together.
“We weren’t trying to one-up you,” Ruprecht said. “We weren’t trying to do anything behind your back.”
Board of Health member Bill Watson suggested his board decide on the amount of flicker that would be considered excessive and the Planning Board adopt the same number.
Planning Board Chairman Tom Bouchard said his goal is to ensure that flicker gets due consideration, because that wasn’t the case when the turbines were approved despite everyone having good intentions.
Selectmen Chairman Elaine Fiore said another green energy initiative that should be given due consideration is solar power, so the town doesn’t get into a similar situation as wind power. She said the town’s Green Energy Committee wants to put out a new Request for Proposals for a solar array on the town’s capped landfill near the Independence turbine.
Town counsel has suggested Kingston consider a moratorium on new wind turbines as the science of measuring sound evolves. Having spoken with counsel, Bouchard said he supports the idea of a moratorium, but for practical reasons, not based on emotion, because the board represents the whole town.
“The moratorium would protect us until the science catches up,” he said.
The potential for new turbines may currently be limited to a fourth on developer Mary O’Donnell’s property, Town Planner Tom Bott said, but he could not rule out expansion of the zones where turbines are allowed or changes on the state level.
Bouchard said the board should assume the limits on the amount of energy produced by turbines and solar projects in towns will increase.
The two boards haven’t settled on a number, but residents concerned about the turbines in their neighborhoods want flicker from turbines to be limited to zero impact on properties adjacent to the turbine site.
Country Club Way resident Tim Dwyer said he supports a zoning change to enforce flicker regulations but not a moratorium for that purpose. He said a moratorium just delays enforcement.
“I’m frustrated that more is not being done to address the problem we have at hand,” he said.
Tim Fontaine, also of Country Club Way, said he would support a moratorium on new turbines to eliminate the risk of more turbines in neighborhoods.
Monday night’s zoning hearing was continued to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28.
The Planning Board will also meet with the Green Energy Committee that night. Bott said the committee has requested to make a flicker presentation.
This Monday night the Board of Health will interview three engineers to serve as potential consultants for studies related to the existing turbines. The selectmen working in conjunction with the town administrator would have to approve the funding for a consultant.
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