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Board Sets Sights On Commercial Turbine Standards

Posted in: Sandwich News, Top Stories
Sep 5, 2008 - 12:48:19 PM

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SANDWICH- In an attempt to prepare for the possible increase in requests for using alternative forms of energy, planning board members agreed to form a subcommittee that will be charged with studying and writing a bylaw for commercial and municipal wind turbines.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, a subcommittee of the Sandwich Energy Committee asked board members to support forming this subcommittee.
The request was prompted by the realization that there are no standards on the books if and when businesses in town should come forward with requests to install wind turbines on commercial properties. Even if the town decided to install a wind turbine on a municipal property, there are no written guidelines on what is and is not allowed.
This void in the bylaws was brought to the forefront when Executive Director of Heritage Museums & Gardens Scott T. Swank began researching what the town would allow in terms of wind energy.   
Mr. Swank said he has been looking at the museum’s recent rise in utility costs and considering the options available for reducing those costs. He said he recently had an audit performed by Cape Light Compact, seeking advice on what could be done to cut down on expenses. He has also consulted with Cape Self Reliance, seeking advice on other forms of energy. Although he is at the initial stages of researching all forms of alternative energy— including solar and wind power—and assessing the pros and cons of each, when he attempted to find out what the town’s bylaws are with respect to wind turbines on commercial properties, he learned that there are no bylaws on the books.
With energy costs only rising and a drive to consider alternative forms of energy, the town’s new Director of Planning and Development Gregory M. Smith said the town must at least be prepared with some kind of guidelines.
While the SEC proposed forming this subcommittee to write such a bylaw for commercial and municipal wind turbines, SEC member Charles W. Kleekamp recommended using caution in the process.
“This bylaw is so crucial and important, but I would not rush it. There is a lot of homework to do,” Mr. Kleekamp said.
Only last year, a bylaw pertaining to residential wind turbines was approved by voters at a Special Town Meeting.
Mr. Kleekamp also cautioned against using that residential bylaw to write a bylaw for the commercial and municipal wind turbines, saying that they are completely separate issues.
“I suggest that this be very different from the residential bylaw. Commercial and municipal wind turbines are completely different, and this should be a separate bylaw unto itself,” he said.
According to Mr. Smith, no decision has been made as to whether there will be one bylaw for both municipal and business wind turbines or separate bylaws for each. Mr. Smith said he is in the process of speaking with planning board members to make a decision on that issue. If the board decides that there should be separate bylaws, one for municipal and one for business, then two subcommittees could be formed that would work in tandem with one another.
The planning board is seeking residents interested in this issue to serve on the subcommittee.  Any residents who would like to be considered can send a letter of interest to the planning board at the Town of Sandwich, 16 Jan Sebastian Drive in Sandwich.