Greenwood sets Aug. 6 for wind vote

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Greenwood selectmen set Aug. 6 for a special Town Meeting, Tuesday, to decide the fate of proposed amendments to the commercial wind farm section of the town ordinance.

The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion Hall on Gore Road, next to the Town Office.

On July 9, more than 100 people turned out for a public hearing on the amendments, which would place much tighter restrictions on wind farms. One new provision – the height restriction on turbine towers – would effectively ban such projects.

The Calpine Corporation is currently studying the viability of a 13-turbine “Long Mountain Wind Farm” project in the area of Long, Tibbetts and Elwell mountains, near Twitchell Pond. Prompted by the potential development, Greenwood’s Ordinance Review Committee has proposed the updates for the ordinance.

The town’s existing ordinance limits decibel levels from routine operation of wind turbines to 55 decibels daytime and 42 at night at non-participating landowner property lines, the same as state guidelines. Setbacks from property lines are a minimum of 150 percent of the height of the towers. There are no height limits specified.

A key part of the new proposal includes a recommendation for decibel limits with a daytime audible decibel maximum of 35, and 25 decibels at night. The ORC also recommended limiting tower heights to 250 feet (as measured from the tower base to the highest point of any turbine rotor blade, at the highest arc of the blade) and establishing setbacks of one mile per 100 feet of tower height.

Calpine has said its wind facility would need towers that are more than 500 feet in height, and the project would likely utilize 600-foot towers.

Regarding the financial impact of a project on the town, Calpine earlier this year presented figures on the net property tax revenue it said Greenwood would gain from a wind farm, as well as a proposal for a community benefits agreement, under which Greenwood and local organizations would receive money annually from the wind company.

Selectmen learned Tuesday that the Community Lakes Association, whose membership includes property owners from several Greenwood and Woodstock lakes, supports the amendments and opposes the project.

At the July 9 hearing a written survey was taken regarding attendees’ preference for what day of the week/time to hold the special Town Meeting. According to Sparks, the most popular day was Monday, the same day of the week as the hearing.

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