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Shelburne panel drafts wind turbine criteria

SHELBURNE – The Planning Board’s Wind Advisory Committee has submitted possible rules for a zoning bylaw on small-scale windmills.

Last week, the advisory group gave the Planning Board a 23-page report that includes everything from the makes and models of wind turbines for homes and businesses, to their impacts, heights, economics, noise, flicker and health impacts.

Their recommendations include the following:

∎ Small-scale wind turbines should not exceed 120 feet, from ground level to the tip of the blade.

∎ Maximum electricity capacity should be limited to 10 kilowatts for homes and up to 30 kilowatts for farms or businesses.

∎ Noise is not to exceed 5 decibels above ambient noise levels that were documented and established before the turbine was built, especially for neighboring households.

∎ Any possible “flicker” caused by sunlight shining through the spinning blades of the turbine, will not be allowed to affect occupied buildings.

∎ Only one wind turbine per premises would be allowed.

The committee has also advised the Planning Board to take visual impacts and property value considerations into account during the permitting process. The setback recommendation from any roadway, structure or property line is to be twice the height of the turbine.

The advisory group also urges limiting acceptable wind turbines to those approved and certified by the Small Wind Certification Council or any other agency approved by Massachusetts.

An annual town meeting vote in 2012 banned commercial-scale wind farms from town, after a landowner sought a special permit for a large-scale windfarm near Mount Massaemet. The turbines proposed for Mount Massaemet were to have been at least 325 feet tall.

At the same time, voters also approved a moratorium on any wind turbine construction, until the town has a zoning bylaw in place for on-premises turbines.

“We were very appreciative of their many hours of hard work,” said Planning Board Chairman Matt Marchese of his subcommittee. “Because we’ve just received it, we extended the advisory board’s charter for another month, so that we could review it and meet with them next month. It’s our intent to have a bylaw drafted, based on it,” Marchese said. “We hope to have a public hearing on a bylaw this spring, and to bring a bylaw to town meeting for a vote.”