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For the most part, though, the testimony was solidly against the turbines, or in favor of following the restrictive measures outlined by the Wind Advisory Board, including the ban on turbines south of Route 72. Of the more than 40 people who spoke, just six were solidly in favor of the project. For some, the coming of turbines may even cause them to leave the town.
HOPKINTON – A public hearing on a law regulating the establishment of wind turbines brought out more than 70 people, mostly to register grave concerns about the project. The meeting, hosted by the Hopkinton Town Council, was at times openly hostile, with one wind farm opponent being ejected.
The hearing was on the proposed Local Law No. 4 of 2017 – Wind Facilities. It regulates things such as setbacks from inhabited buildings and sensitive areas, and includes a map of a wind overlay zone, restricting the areas where turbines could be built.
Each speaker was allowed three minutes.
The testimony was begun by Jeffery Snell, who requested that wind turbines not be built south of Route 72, in keeping with the original wind overlay zone suggested by the Hopkinton Wind Advisory Board. This restriction has been contested by Avangrid Renewables, the company who would be responsible for the turbine project.
Mr. Snell began his testimony sitting down, and after about a minute, Susan M. Wood, the town supervisor, asked Mr. Snell to stand.
“Oh, I’m not going to stand,” he said.
“Jeff, please stand,” said Ms. Wood. Mr. Snell stood and finished his testimony.
There were general applause after Mr. Snell’s testimony, prompting a warning from the council. There were applause after the next testimony, too, from Janice Pease, an anti-turbine candidate for town council.
“If this continues, we will have to close the public meeting,” said Ms. Wood.
“We have a right to clap our hands, thank you!” said someone in the back of the room.
About half an hour in, a pro-turbine testimony turned into cross talk, including Mr. Snell.
“Jeff, out,” said Ms. Wood. When Mr. Snell refused to go, Ms. Wood asked the police officer standing in the corner, “Ma’am, could we have him removed?”
The officer made no move, but did advise Mr. Snell, “If she asked you to leave, it’s her meeting.” Mr. Snell left the meeting.
A few of the speakers did support the turbines.
“I’ve been here for generations,” said Debra Parker. “I think (the turbines are) an opportunity that I’d like to take part in.”
She also lamented the division in the community that the debate has caused.
“I saw people I’ve known my whole life … who wouldn’t look at me as I walked in,” she said. “Let’s be adults.”
For the most part, though, the testimony was solidly against the turbines, or in favor of following the restrictive measures outlined by the Wind Advisory Board, including the ban on turbines south of Route 72.
Of the more than 40 people who spoke, just six were solidly in favor of the project.
For some, the coming of turbines may even cause them to leave the town.
“I don’t want it, and if they come, we’re moving,” said Justin Fox.
The town council will take up the law at a later meeting.
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