- Written by Administrator
- Published: 15 February 2012
A proposal to change the bylaw that governs wind turbines in Duxbury has failed to gain the support of the Board of Selectmen.
Selectmen voted 2 to 1 on Monday night not to endorse Article 44, a citizen’s petition to change the zoning bylaw for community-scale wind facilities. Selectmen Chairman Shawn Dahlen and Selectman Ted Flynn voted against supporting the article; Selectmen Chris Donato voted in favor of it. Flynn said that the changes “effectively gut the bylaw” and make it impossible to locate a wind turbine anywhere in town. The article is sponsored by Duxbury Wind Wise, a citizen’s group concerned about the effects a wind turbine would have on Duxbury and its residents. Duxbury Wind Wise was organized after the Alternative Energy Committee released a consultant’s report that identified an area at the North Hill Country Club and marsh as a site for a wind turbine to produce electricity for the town. The consultant recommended a 276-foot turbine. The Alternative Energy Committee has since entered into contracts for solar energy to meet the town’s electrical needs and has tabled its discussions on a wind turbine project for the near future.
Article 44 seeks to amend the wind facilities bylaw by setting new height and setback requirements for a wind turbine. Under this change, maximum height of a wind turbine would be 225 feet; in the current bylaw it is 250 feet.
The setback requirements would change from 1.1 times the height of the wind facility to the nearest property line and two times the height from the nearest existing residence or commercial structure to 15 times the total height from a property line or residence.
According to Jack Murphy of Duxbury Wind Wise, the current bylaw allows a 250-foot tall wind turbine to be 275 feet away from a property line.
“We’re saying that is too close and has too much of an impact,” he said. “Just to put it in perspective, the 275 feet, that’s less than a football field.”
Murphy said the setback change proposed is half of the 1.24 mile setback recommended by “the international community” of nations that have researched wind turbines located near dwellings and their associated health problems.
“We want this bylaw to protect all the residents,” said Murphy. “We’re not eliminating wind from Duxbury.”
In his presentation, Murphy showed slides of other new wind technologies such as a 35-foot tall wind spire that costs $5,000 and is silent. However, Alternative Energy Committee chairman Jim Goldenberg said the proposed changes to the wind facilities bylaw will eliminate any possibility of wind energy in Duxbury.
“In no uncertain terms, it will kill wind development in Duxbury,” said Goldenberg.
He said the wind facilities bylaw that his volunteer committee worked to craft, which the Town Meeting passed in 2010, was designed to govern technology that is available today. He said it was unnecessary to change it.
“There is no need to modify the bylaw because we have no wind turbine proposed,” said Goldenberg. “The wind turbine bylaw is a commitment that this town has made to renewable energy. If we approve this bylaw change, the message that we are sending is that we don’t approve of wind development in town.”
The Planning Board voted 4-0 to recommend that town meeting vote to indefinitely postpone Article 44, said member Brian Glennon. He said the proposed amendment “effectively renders the bylaw moot.”
“The planning board is receptive to modifying the bylaw, but by rendering the bylaw meaningless, that is something we cannot support,” said Glennon.
Long-time planning board member George Wadsworth was more blunt: “If you don’t like the bylaw, why don’t you get rid of the bylaw?” he asked.
Dahlen was glad to see that voters will have a chance to weigh in on this issue and he liked the process both Duxbury Wind Wise and the Alternative Energy Committee have followed. At a previous meeting last fall, he had asked residents to let the committee continue its work and gather and discuss more information on wind turbines.
“I’m very happy to see this come forward the way it has,” said Dahlen. “Everybody has become a lot more educated on this and I’m happy to see this come to Town Meeting. For Duxbury residents it will come down to: Do I want a wind turbine in my town? If voters say we need more information, then everybody will work to that effort. It is something the voters need to decide.”
Flynn agreed. “I was not in favor of siting a wind turbine at North Hill, but I agree with the Alternative Energy Committee that we should not eliminate any wind technology for the future.”
For a future meeting, Flynn asked to discuss the idea of adding two members of Duxbury Wind Wise to the Alternative Energy Committee, an idea brought forward by a resident at the meeting. Dahlen agreed the selectmen should investigate this idea and said he would add it to an upcoming meeting agenda.