Becoming as Contentious as Project’s 1620 Namesake?
Last week’s Falmouth Enterprise editorial “Mayflower Wind’s Power Lines” cited many worries. Falmouth’s social media sites buzzed with concern comments ranging from “greenies” to Falmouth Heights property owners, fishermen to aquaculture farmers.
Should residents be worried?
Falmouth’s new Wind Energy Systems Zoning Bylaw is pretty clear. It defines any Wind Energy System’s components in Falmouth to be subject to provisions of this local bylaw. It indeed, captures the Mayflower wind project. Shouldn’t we take some solace in the fundamentally accepted means to assure that town residents and resources will be allowed legal land use protection?
Well, as it turns out…
I’ve found that Mayflower has asked for a zoning exemption. I’ve ask Town Hall the status of this request. I’ve asked Mayflower’s community liaison if they’ve been granted their request. The select board chairman responded that it was his understanding that Mayflower has requested zoning exemption and that if federal and state agencies exempted the project, Falmouth’s zoning review and permit process likely would be as well. The town planner replied that he’d be conferring with other staff and town counsel. The project community liaison replied that they presently had not received any response determination from the Town of Falmouth.
The back-story – all about timing
Falmouth’s interaction with this Mayflower project has been ongoing since as early as March 9, 2020 when project managers conducted an in person introductory meeting with Falmouth Selectmen. As Mayflower records attest, the first discussion of zoning with the Town of Falmouth was June 3 2021. However, zoning aside, discussion between the Town of Falmouth and Mayflower regarding the Host Community Agreement (An agreement defining what Mayflower is willing to offer Falmouth for town land use necessary to the project – for the history buffs… similar to the 1626 exchange of beads and trinkets given to the Indians for the island of Manhattan) began as early as May 14 2021.
Negotations have continued according to Mayflower’s web site with the most recent Mayflower proposal being sent to the town October 26 2021.
From the record and to my knowledge, no other discussion regarding zoning between the town and Mayflower has been conducted.
In addition to the exemption question reply received from the Mayflower community liaison, I received a link to documents involving the project’s petition to the state Energy Facility Siting Board. Right there… in black & white, in the opening sections of the report titled Project Overview and Siting Jurisdiction I found the list Mayflower Wind had compiled that accounted for the entities having regulatory authority over project build-out. Various agencies from the feds and state were listed. The Town of Falmouth was not on the list.
Cause for concern?
Last week’s Falmouth Enterprise editorial “Mayflower Wind’s Power Lines” cited many worries. Perhaps Falmouth’s biggest worry should be whether our new Wind Energy System (WES) zoning bylaw will be applied as Town Meeting intended.
Or, as with recent Falmouth wind energy experience, should we be so easily convinced the town’s best interest will be protected by “green” political rhetoric and a Host Community Agreement promising fiscal “golden eggs” — Again?
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