On Thursday, the town of Savoy will vote on its wind zoning bylaws. The change, if it passes, will not affect the permits already issued to the developer of a wind turbine project. Regardless of the merits of projects like this one, because the law allows towns to make rules for siting turbines, voters in the town get to decide.
The state has been funding wind startups and zoning bylaws in several surrounding towns were written to expressly allow the specific plans of a developer. That’s what appears to have happened in Savoy. As the towns voted in favor of them, it was fair and square at the time. Fortunately, those bylaws can be changed.
In Savoy the new proposed bylaw would undo the existing one, and for now prohibit wind development. If it passes, new bylaws that are carefully considered by townspeople can be written and brought forward for consideration. That’s what happened in Peru, Shelburne, Buckland and Heath.
Every year, a bill is brought up in the state to take away local control of turbine siting. Thankfully it has not yet passed. That’s a good thing for our region. Because like them or not, towns controlling whether or not wind projects are built in our towns is a cornerstone of democracy. And now Savoy gets to decide its own fate.