Any developer hoping to install utility-size wind turbines in Kingston will have to wait until after April 15, 2016.
And, with any proposal, the developer will have to prove that the shadow flicker from that turbine won’t affect neighboring households.
Town Meeting voters quickly approved a moratorium on industrial wind turbines Tuesday night but debated implementing a regulation on flicker that could be prohibitive for new wind turbine projects. The final vote was 101-43; the measure passed by the needed two-thirds majority.
Town Counsel Jay Talerman said the new regulation will be part of the permitting process for new turbines, so any developer would be aware that it’s in place when they apply. While he believes the regulation is enforceable, he said he’s not sure that it would hold up to a challenge in court.
Country Club Way resident Tim Dwyer said Bourne has approved a zero flicker regulation and the the town of Winchester has regulated that flicker cannot leave the property on which wind turbines are sited, so it can be done.
What shouldn’t be allowed, he said, is the assault on people’s homes and livelihood from the effects of strobing or flicker. Neighbors are being accused of being against wind turbines, he said, but it’s where the turbines have been installed that is the problem.
“We’re more than happy to support wind turbines cited responsibly,” he said.
Leland Road resident Doreen Reilly said the new regulation won’t help her family because it can’t be applied retroactively, but it will help others avoid the situation with which they are forced to live near the Independence wind turbine.
“I would hate to see other people live the way I and my family have had to live since 2012,” she said.
Responding to a comment that neighbors knew or should have known that wind turbines were going in near their homes and fought against them then, Reilly said that knowing that a wind turbine would be built and living with the unknown consequences are two different things.
Landing Road resident Sara Altherr urged voters to carefully consider what they are doing and to vote against the new regulation. She said the Planning Board is being shortsighted in reaction to opposition from neighbors. The threat from the nearby nuclear power plant is so much greater than the impact from flicker, she said.
Planning Board member Susan Boyer said the wind turbine moratorium will allow for further investigation of the science of wind turbines, including noise and flicker. An advisory group for the state is meeting to consider revising state noise regulations for turbines.
Voters also overwhelming approved changes to the town’s solar bylaw based on new information. They approved language requiring that abutters who live within 500 feet of a solar project be notified, as a courtesy, plus protections for forest land and limits to minimize glare.
Voters also approved $15,000 to enter into an Energy Services Contract, so the proceeds of revenues from the wind turbines in town can be used to fund energy audits of municipal buildings.
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