SHELBURNE – Two years after banning “large-scale” wind farms and putting any building of smaller on-premise turbines on hold, town meeting voters will be asked to approve a bylaw to regulate smaller turbines for home, farm or business use.
They’ll also see requests for a new highway truck, a new roof membrane for Memorial Hall, and buying the former Jehovah’s Witness building for $100,000 for a town police station. They will be asked to finance the town’s share of school building repairs and consider a “Community Rights Resolution” regarding large-scale energy infrastructure projects, such as the former Massaemet Wind Farm proposal and the current Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. proposal.
The annual town meeting will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall auditorium.
This year, town government is seeking a 2.2 percent budget increase in the general government budget, for a total of $3.6 million. That includes a 2.5 percent pay raise for most town employees, and a roughly 2 percent increase in education.
Building repairs seem to be a priority this year; voters will be asked to spend the following sums for town-owned buildings:
∎ $48,845 for the Mohawk Trail Regional School District’s capital budget for the coming school year.
∎ $85,000 to buy and install a 30-year roof membrane for Memorial Hall. A separate request is for $5,000 to refurbish the floor in the Memorial Hall selectmen’s meeting room and to make other minor interior repairs.
∎ $50,000 from the Stabilization Account to be spent on the Pratt Memorial Library Building roof replacement project.
∎ $38,000 from the Housing Trust II Account to renovate and reconfigure the Memorial Hall bathrooms so they comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The town is also asking to use $170,000 of its state Chapter 90 highway funding to buy a new six-wheel dump truck and associated equipment for the Town Highway Department, contingent on approval by the state Department of Transportation.
The town will also vote to allow the Mohawk Trail Regional School District to borrow $542,778 for a five-year, Phase 1 capital improvement plan for Mohawk and $783,900 for Buckland Shelburne Elementary School. The assessments won’t be due until next year, but the town has to approve a debt-exclusion that would enable it to temporarily raise taxes above the tax levy limit to pay off its share of these costs.
There is a request to expand the town’s Agricultural Commission from five members to nine members and require that two-thirds of the commission be actively involved in agriculture.
The article for a Community Rights Resolution came by way of a petition, and it’s also on Ashfield’s annual meeting warrant. Both towns have residents who’ve been approached by representatives of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. seeking permission to survey their land as the company looks into building a pipeline across the state. The petition notes that landowners have been approached for this project before town officials or police were given any notification of the project coming through town.
The petition asks for the right to hold public hearings and to have a vote on all “corporate, state or federal energy infrastructure and other large-scale projects” as they arise. This would include pipeline construction, resource extraction, the removal of ground water for bottling and export, transmission line expansion, large-scale solar arrays, and the dumping of fracking wastewater from other states. It would also require developers to notify the Board of Selectmen of any such proposal before contacting landowners.
The new Premises-Use Wind Energy System Bylaw would allow systems producing up to 30 kilowatts of electricity to be built in town, through a special permit process through the Zoning Board of Appeals. The turbines cannot be taller than 120 feet, and the land setbacks must be a distance of at least 1.5 times the height of the turbine. Also the turbine must be set back at least three times the distance of its height from the nearest inhabited home, other than the owner’s.
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