BELCHERTOWN – Voters at the annual Town Meeting on Monday will be asked to approve a bylaw proposed by the Planning Board to regulate small wind-energy systems.
“This is not about large commercial wind turbines,” explained Town Planner Douglas Albertson. “It’s about small things individuals might want to put up.”
If approved, the regulation would specify the process for residents or small businesses to apply for permits and provide guidelines in terms of size and placement.
The purpose of the new bylaw, according to language on the warrant, is to “promote safe, effective and efficient use of small wind energy systems (and) to reduce on-site consumption of utility supplied electricity.”
It would apply to units no greater than 100 kilowatts of capacity. Wind generators used for agriculture would be exempt from the provisions of the bylaw.
The power generated would primarily be used on site, but excess energy could be sold to the grid.
“The distinction between this small wind energy system and a commercial system is that this is intended to provide an alternative to the public utility grid, whereas a commercial system is intended to provide to the public utility grid for pay,” according to bylaw.
Albertson said he is unaware of anybody currently planning to install such a system, but the Planning Board believes it is prudent to put a bylaw in place to avoid complications in the future.
“We want to be prepared to guide the process,” he said. “We talked about this three or four years ago, so we worked up a draft and approved it.”
Such wind turbines would be limited to one tower per parcel. The height could not exceed 120 feet and the turbine must have a non-reflective finish of an unobtrusive color.
Permits granted for the construction or operation of a small wind energy system would be valid for 25 years and would be transferable to subsequent owners of the property.
Special Town Meeting
A special Town Meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Monday in the Belchertown High School gymnasium, followed by the annual Town Meeting at 7:30.
Voters will also be asked to approve a budget for the town, which will be over $40 million. Finance Committee Chairwoman Lynne Raymer said Wednesday that her panel was still working on finalizing the exact budget based on figures the committee was awaiting from the Select Board which was contemplating raising sewer fees to generate additional revenue.
Other items on the Town Meeting warrant include a provision to expand the Historic District Commission from five to seven members appointed by the Select Board, and to increase the size of a quorum from three to four members.
Several articles for spending measures on the posted warrant did not have dollar figures attached to them. Select Board Chairman Ronald Aponte said some of those numbers may not be finalized until shortly before the Town Meeting begins.
These include appropriating money to purchase the John Patrick Center at 47 State St, an abandoned building that was once part of the Belchertown State School.
Another warrant article would appropriate money to develop a timber marketing plan for trees on town-owned property.
Voters will also be asked to appropriate money from the Community Preservation Fund to repair a stained glass window at the Clapp Memorial Library.
Another spending provision would pay for removing an underground storage tank at the Chestnut Hill Community School.
Voters will also be asked to authorize the Select Board to negotiate a payment in lieu of taxes agreement for a solar array proposed for an area near the intersections of Franklin and North Liberty streets.
No election contests
There are no contested races for town offices this year and all candidates running are incumbents.
The election will be held May 16 in the gymnasium of Belchertown High School, with polls open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Candidates include George “Archie” Archible of 143 Chauncey Walker St. and William Barnett of 16 Waterford Drive, two three-year terms on the Select Board; Myndi Bogdanovich of 28 Rockrimmon St., three-year term on the School Committee; Daniel Beaudette of 251 Cold Spring St., five-year term on the Planning Board; Raymond Goff of 5 Jensen St., three-year term on the Board of Assessors.
Gary Racicot of 620 State St. is the only candidate for two open three-year seats on the Board of Health. Fellow member Gail Gramarossa is not seeking reelection.
Kenneth Dorey of 41 Everett Ave., #25A, is seeking another five-year term on the Housing Authority.
Barnett and Kyle Vincent of 8 Gulf Road are seeking the two three-year seats for representatives to the Hampshire Council of Governments.
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