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Zoning Board of Appeals — Meeting Minutes — August 4, 2011

A duly posted meeting of the Shelburne Zoning Board of Appeals was held at the Meeting Room in Town Hall, 51 Bridge Street, Shelburne, on August 4, 2011.

Members Present: Joseph Palmeri, William Sweeney, Lowell Laporte, John Taylor, Theodore Merrill,
Administrative Assistant: Faye Whitney
Members Absent: Catherine Smith
Guests: Frederick Donald Field, John Field, Mark Donahue and about 30 other people

Chairman Joe Palmeri called the meeting to order at 7:04 p.m.

The Board agreed to review the recent changes to the zoning bylaws, which were approved by annual Town Meeting, prior to the September meeting.

A discussion was held concerning the amended ZBA Rules and regulations. It was determined that the version now found on the town website is correct. Any other version now in circulation should be destroyed to avoid future confusion.

A motion was made by Mr. Sweeney, seconded by Mr. Laporte to approve the minutes of the June 2 Schmidt hearing.

Voting in favor: Mr. Sweeney, Mr. Laporte, Mr. Merrill
Opposed: None
Abstentions: Mr. Palmeri, Mr. Taylor

A motion was made by Mr. Sweeney, seconded by Mr. Laporte to approve the minutes of the June 2 Shea hearing.

Voting in favor: Mr. Sweeney, Mr. Laporte, Mr. Merrill, Mr. Taylor
Opposed: None
Abstentions: Mr. Palmeri

A motion was made by Mr. Laporte, seconded by Mr. Sweeney, to approve the minutes of the July 7 meeting.

Voting in favor: Mr. Sweeney, Mr. Laporte, Mr. Merrill, Mr. Taylor
Opposed: None
Abstentions: Mr. Palmeri

At 7:31 p.m. Mr. Palmeri explained to the audience that Mr. Frederick Donald Field Jr. was present to make a presentation to the Board. It was not a public hearing. Mr. Field was there simply to find out what might be need before applying for a Special Permit.

Mr. Field is proposing to construct eight 2.5-megawatt wind turbines atop Mount Massamet. The towers would be spaced for a distance of about two miles from the cell tower on the south to the ledges on the north. The turbines would be located on the easterly side of the stone tower, on the Shelburne Center side of the ridge. Access to the turbines would be through the Davenport's property. Mr. Field said he has had a SODAR machine in place near the stone tower, which is profiling the wind to a height of 200 meters. Preliminary results form this indicate that there is an adequate wind resource on the site for a commercial wind-generated electric project. Mr. Field said he would post questions from the public, and his answers, on his website mtmassaemetwindfarminc.com

Mr. Merrill asked for the height and diameter of the turbines and blades. Mr. Field said the tower height would be 420 feet from the ground to the tip of the blade, 80 meters to the hub; the rotor diameter would be 44 meters.

Mr. Field said he had an option to develop this project from the landowners: the Davenport, Gould and Dole families. Mr. Field's own property would be used for transmission lines. He said no trucks or construction equipment would use Cooper Lane. Mr. Field also said studies would be done on possible interference with radio communications, flicker, raptors and aviary issues. Mr. Field said it would appear that current zoning bylaws allow commercial electric generation in all zones with a Special Permit.

Mr. Merrill remarked that he felt that the issues raised in the proposed wind farm filing exceeded the jurisdiction of the ZBA.

Mr. Palmeri asked if Mr. Field had addressed the idea of one principal structure per lot and the fact that none of the properties had road frontage. Questions were also raised as to whether Mr. Field would be buying or leasing land from the current owners. Mr. Field said he expected to lease the properties.

Mr. Field said he would need investors to finance the project. He was reminded that the Board would need details on whether the project is economically viable and whether the town would benefit from the project through taxes or possibly from the electricity produced.

Mr. Palmeri suggested that the project could require 16 Special Permits - one apiece for each electric generation unit, and one apiece for each structure over 35 feet in height. Mr. Palmeri said the ZBA would likely be asking Mr. Field to pay for independent legal and engineering advice and that there was a good chance that a bond would be required. Mr. Taylor said the public would be concerned about property values and would want to know the benefits to the town from this project.

Following an hour of discussion the audience was asked if they had questions. Dianne Muller asked if there were any regulations on health effects from a project of this sort. Mr. Palmeri said no, not from the ZBA.

The Board considered checking with other Massachusetts towns that already have wind turbines.

At 9:38 p.m. a motion was made by Mr. Laporte, and seconded by Mr. Merrill, to adjourn the meeting. The vote in favor was unanimous.

Respectfully submitted,
Faye Whitney
Administrative Assistant