HOPKINTON – It took less than two minutes for the town of Hopkinton to pass the Wind Energy Facilities law Thursday night, a measure that had gone down in a split vote less than two weeks ago.
Town Supervisor Susan M. Wood called the meeting to order before about 60 residents just after 6:30 p.m. No public comment was allowed and council members offered no discussion before the unanimous vote in favor of the law was recorded.
Council members Steven Parker Jr. and Susan Lyons reversed their no votes from April 16 and joined Ms. Wood and Council member Kelly Pullano in approving the law.
Council member Gilbert Sochia has abstained from voting because of a conflict.
The new wind law replaces the current town law passed in 2011. It would regulate the North Ridge Wind Energy Project, which the energy company Avangrid has been planning to establish in the town.
Immediately after the vote was taken, Mr. Parker read a statement.
“I have been asked a lot lately why the sudden change in positions,” Mr. Parker said. ”There really hasn’t been a change in position. Sue Lyons and I sat down to plan the roundtable discussion she proposed at the last meeting. During that time we both agreed that the draft wind law presented to the town board by the Wind Advisory Board was a very solid law with only a few debatable issues.”
Neither board member, Mr. Parker said, wanted to waste the effort of the Wind Advisory Board because of a few issues.
“We both agreed that some sections of the law still require some discussion,” he said. “Some questions need to be answered but not at the cost of losing all the hard work of the Wind Advisory Board.”
Among other things, the law sets the maximum allowable noise level at 40 decibels, measured at the nearest non-participating property line or residence, as well as setbacks of five times the maximum height of the turbines. As the turbine height is set at 500 feet in the proposed law, this means a maximum setback of 2,500 feet. The law also bans the construction of wind turbines south of Route 72.
Mr. Parker encouraged residents to take part in roundtable discussions that will be coming in the near future with an aim to adjust the law that was just passed.
“I hear Avangrid being accused of dividing us,” Mr. Parker said. “I don’t believe that for one bit. I say we divided ourselves with our own refusal to listen and our own lack of respect for each other. I think right now is the time for that to change.”
Mr. Parker’s statement was greeted with a round of applause and the meeting was adjourned.
“We have to file it with the state,” Ms. Wood said of the law after the meeting. “And then we’ll arrange a meeting with Avangrid to start negotiations.”
There were no representatives from Avangrid at the meeting.
Ms. Pullano, who said she would be issuing a statement in the next day or two, noted that this was the first meeting in which there was no one from Avangrid attending.
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