Hopkinton town supervisor wants new wind law in place before wind developer files state application
By MATT LINDSEY
HOPKINTON — Hopkinton Town Supervisor Sue Wood wants a new wind law in place prior to Avangrid Rewnewables filing its application with the state siting board.
Wood said she was advised by a lawyer to pass a law “as soon as possible.”Wood shared that information at a Hopkinton Town Board meeting Monday night in front of a packed crowd.
Town residents and officials have been in limbo over conflicting information about whether or not a new wind law needed to be in place before the wind developer filed its application.
According to lawyer Paul Agresta of the state Public Service Commission, the passing of the law did not need to be done immediately.
The recommendation from the town lawyer was made so the state siting board would only be considering the new law. Wood did not want to chance allowing the state to use the town’s law from 2011, which is less restrictive overall.
Wood not only was following legal advice, but said she agreed too that a new law is needed.
Avangrid, the wind power company planning to build 27 turbines in Hopkinton, plans to file its application in the summer, according to Avangrid Communications Manager Paul Copleman.
When could a vote happen?
That is still to be decided and will not take place until council members feel that the law would be approved.
Asked how far apart council members are, Wood said, “very far apart.”
She said that setbacks from residences and sound decibel limits should be easier to work out than the expansion over the project south of SH 72 near the Adirondack Park.
“The overlay zone is the main issue,” Wood said.
The original law from 2011 did not include language about land south of SH 72, only addressing north of 11B, Wood said.
The law from 2011 calls for setbacks of 1,800 feet from a residence -- not the property line -- and 600 feet from the road. The latest talks for the wind law called for setbacks of 2,500 feet from a property line of a non-participating landowner (more than five times the height of a tower), and sound decibels of 40 dBA.
The board will discuss wind matters at a work session Feb. 27. The public can attend, but no public input will be allowed.
At the meeting Monday night, 18 people spoke in favor of a new law and two wanted to keep the old law in place.
A letter written by Hopkinton Wind Advisory Board Member Jody Wentzel that stressed the time and energy spent by board to create a law for the town was read aloud.
Wentzel said the Hopkinton Town Board should support the advisory board's suggestion and emphasized that his board made compromises in coming to an agreement too.
He called it a “fair law,” Wood said.
Meetings have been somewhat tense in the past, but Wood was pleased at the tone for the evening.
“It was a good meeting — very respectful,” Wood said.
The next scheduled town board meeting is March 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the municipal building.