OTIS – Wind turbines? Not in our backyard.
That was the message from the Otis Planning Board on April 4, when members voted 3-2 to adopt a new wind turbine ordinance aimed at blocking commercial wind development in the town.
Otis resident Teresa Davis said in an email that she and several other residents had been working for months to get the town to adopt the anti-industrial wind ordinance.
“It is too bad each town acts independently when one can affect the other so much,” Davis said, referring to wind projects in neighboring towns that could affect views and noise levels in Otis.
There will be a public hearing on Monday, April 22, at 6 p.m. at the town office to discuss the new rules. For the ordinance to go into effect, voters would have to approve it at Town Meeting on May 11.
If approved by voters, the ordinance would set turbine height limits of 150 feet. (Commercial turbines are generally much taller, often measuring several hundred feet from base to blade tip.)
It would limit the number of wind turbines to one per five-acre lot, with no more than three on any single lot and a limit of one for every five acres on larger lots (example: an 11-acre lot would be allowed three turbines). And it would set decibel limits of 45 dBA at adjoining property lines, slightly louder than a library and a bit quieter than a dishwasher in the next room.
“The purpose of this ordinance is to regulate the placement and construction of Wind Energy Systems (WES) while preserving the town’s visual character, minimizing environmental impacts and protecting the public health, safety and welfare of the residents of Otis,” according to its statement of purpose.
Davis said she was moved to act after Paul Fuller, who developed a wind farm on Pisgah Mountain in Clifton several years ago, came to Otis last summer to propose putting up turbines off Otis Road.
“As soon as I learned of the possibility of this industry in our town,” said Davis, “I wrote a letter to every voter and taxpayer on the town lists. I wanted them to be aware of this new type of industrial project, to educate themselves and to let the PB [Planning Board] know how they felt.”
Davis said she gathered signatures and emails from at least 120 people who were against industrial wind power.
The move also comes as Weaver Wind, a $140-million, 22-wind turbine project involving four nearby Hancock County towns, moves through the state permitting process. The turbines for that project would be located in Eastbrook and Osborn, with maintenance and operations in Aurora.
An existing substation in Township 16 would be upgraded to handle the increased capacity from the project. Officials at Weaver Wind have said they expect to start construction this year if permits are approved.
The Otis ordinance also contains standards for the design of wind turbine blades and other parts, such as a specification that no component used to generate electricity shall have a diameter of more than 50 feet.
A scenic assessment could be required for a resident who wants to put up a turbine, and owners of turbines that are found to be louder than the 45 dBA (except during storms) could be forced to pay a fee.