PERU – A majority of voters supported a two-year moratorium on wind energy projects, but not enough to carry the measure through.
The initiative failed to reach the required two-thirds vote at a special town meeting Monday as residents split 157 in favor to 109 against a moratorium.
The meeting began at 6:30 p.m. and included a moderated comment period and subsequent vote. It wrapped up shortly after 8 p.m.
In recent weeks, the proposed ban has proven a contentious issue in town.
“If everyone spoke (Monday), we would have been there until midnight,” said Peru Select Board Chairman Douglas Haskins Sr. “But all the questions had been asked and it was time to vote.”
Haskins said he expected the measure to pass, especially since the wind energy company, Lightship Energy, is seeking a permit to build five 500-foot turbines between Haskell and Garnet hills off Curtin Road. The moratorium would have stopped Lightship from advancing their plans any further.
But now Haskins, who’s also a member of the town planning and zoning boards, expects to hear from the company inside the next few weeks. Lightship must next receive a special permit from the zoning board.
“The process will play out publicly, and all I can say is 59 percent of the town is opposed,” said resident John DiTomasso, who established the website garnethillwind.com to inform people about proposed development. “I’m sure there’s going to be a tremendous amount of interest.”
Proponents of wind energy in the town say Lightship’s proposal could net the town $150,000 per year in tax revenue while promoting green energy.
Opponents are concerned about whether industrial-sized turbines cause those who live nearby to suffer ill health effects like vertigo, nausea, headaches and sleep interruption. Such effects have been observed among residents in other places, like Falmouth, where industrial turbines were allowed. Roughly 40 houses fall within a mile of the proposed building site, the closest separated by 1,650 feet.
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