Neighbors Seek Change To Town's Turbine Bylaw
By: Diana T. Barth
Mark E. Hebb was among the people in the audience Wednesday afternoon as three members of the Cape Cod Commission subcommittee that will be making a recommendation on the New Generation Wind LLC turbine project to the full commission began their internal deliberations.
Before that meeting began, Mr. Hebb, a Bourne resident, said that he was among those opponents of the seven-turbine project proposed for Bournedale who submitted an article for Bourne’s May Town Meeting that would ask voters to amend the town’s wind turbine bylaw to require larger setbacks.
Currently, in Bourne, turbines have a setback from all property lines equal to the height of the tower, including blades, plus 10 feet.
Mr. Hebb said the petition article requests that the setbacks be changed to 10 times the rotor diameter. That means, he said, that if the distance from the tip of one blade to the tip of another is 300 feet, the turbine would need to be set back 3,000 feet from its neighboring properties.
The petition was turned into the town last week, he said. If it meets all the signature and other requirements, it will be placed on the warrant.
Mr. Hebb, project manager at the Pilgrim Pines subdivision, was among the dozen or so abutters and others impacted by the project who went to Tilden Arts Center at Cape Cod Community College yesterday afternoon to listen to discussions at the first Cape Cod Commission subcommittee meeting since the public hearing portion of that process ended.
The subcommittee heard public testimony concerning the seven-turbine project proposed for Bournedale at three separate hearings, held in August, September and November. Now, it will be debating the issues and measuring the project against a number of criteria, standards set out for developments of regional impact.
While public debate has ended, the record in the matter is still open. In fact, on a table outside the auditorium, there was a list of the more than 450 items, most of them e-mails, that commissioners have received since the November 15 public hearing.
The record will close at noon on March 2, marking the last day and time that anyone, the applicant included, can submit any more information regarding the project.
Cape Cod Commission regulatory officer Page Czepiga also announced that the deadline for a decision on the project had been extended from March 21 to April 22.
This week, commission staff spoke with the subcommittee, which included Michael Blanton, Bourne’s representative to the commission, about the information they thought the applicant had yet to supply, including more detailed information on the public benefits of the project.
In the discussion that followed on that issue, the staff said no power supply agreement has been made public. The applicants, in turn, explained they were not refusing to disclose an agreement; none had as yet been reached.
If the company could not reach an agreement to sell power to the grid, the project would not go forward, a New Generation Wind representative said, so they were confident such an agreement would be reached.
As to the benefits to the citizens of Bourne, they were still discussing how they would pass along a financial benefit to the project abutters with NStar, but repeated that they were serious in their decision to pay for some of the abutters’ electricity costs. The amount individual abutters would receive would be based on the distance their homes were from the turbines.
Ms Czepiga also outlined which standards and criteria the staff felt the project had not as yet met. Those included the standards dealing with scenic roadways and vistas, as well as cultural landscapes.
Subcommittee members were reminded that the turbines would be visible from the historic Bourne and Sagamore bridges, from two major scenic vistas along the canal, and from historic sites in Bournedale Village. They heard that the US Army Corps of Engineers described the canal, itself, as the major tourist destination in New England, attracting some 4 million visitors annually.
They decided to make a visit to those sites, and to one of the Bournedale neighborhoods, and tentatively set that visit for Monday, February 28.
Discussion of various aspects of the project will continue at the next subcommittee meeting. That meeting is expected to be held sometime in the second week of March. The exact date and time of both the site visit and that meeting will be posted online at www.capecodcommission.org.
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