PROSPECT – A proposed order from a group against a wind project in Prospect would set turbines back 3,000 feet from abutting property and 2,500 feet from roadways.
Save Prospect Corp. submitted the proposal, along with a four inch thick binder of research about wind turbines, to the Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday, Dec. 15.
If adopted, the order would prohibit the wind turbines from operating between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. to reduce disturbance to neighbors.
The order would be site-specific to the BNE Energy project on New Haven Road rather than a new zoning ordinance. It would stall excavation on the project until BNE submits site plans to the commission for approval by special permit.
Chairman Don Pomeroy said the board would seek outside legal advice before discussing or adopting any order.
The submitted wind power development order is a starting point for commissioners to begin their own investigation into appropriate ordinances, said Tim Reilly, President of Save Prospect Corp.
A subcommittee of about 10 people from Save Prospect’s membership of over 100 worked for four weeks to compile the documents submitted to the commission. They made sure to use only credible sources, such as doctors and town officials and not take anything from blogs or comments, Reilly said.
Reilly urged commissioners to contact other towns and resources when formulating their opinion.
“Ultimately, it’s the commissioners that will have to stand behind those orders,” Reilly said.
Although the proposed setback would alleviate some of the noise, it would not eliminate it, according to Reilly. Some turbines can be heard up to a mile away, he said.
“We’ve come to some number that is conservative but not radical,” Reilly said. “We strongly believe that industrial turbines don’t fit in a residential neighborhood.”
Commissioner Gregory Ploski raised concerns that if there is no location in Prospect that could meet the proposed setback requirements, the order could be turned over.
“If we adopted this, it would eliminate that site,” Ploski said, suggesting the town first take legal counsel.
Dick Seargant urged the commission to adopt the proposed order.
“It’s up to you to protect us on our side of town,” he said.
As the turbine issue was not on the Planning and Zoning Commission’s agenda for this meeting, the only person at the meeting supporting BNE’s turbines was Paul Vallillo.
He asked the commission to consider all sides of the argument and give turbine supporters a chance to speak their mind.
Pomeroy said he would review the submitted materials.
“We’re on a learning curve here too,” he said.
Town Council: slow down
This new proposal comes one day after the Prospect Town Council unanimously approved a resolution urging state legislators to pass a moratorium on wind turbine projects until Connecticut establishes standards for setback, safety, and noise levels for the new technology.
There are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the impact of wind turbines, according to Town Council Chairman Tom Galvin.
He voted for the moratorium to slow down the process until more answers and facts become evident, he said.
Galvin said he visited several wind turbine sites. Some, like the one in Falmouth, Massachusetts, were quite loud, while others, like one in Templeton, Massachusetts, were essentially silent, he said. The latter was located in a school yard.
“I can’t imagine that anyone would put one in a school yard unless they were somehow convinced they were safe,” said Galvin.
The Town Council spent about two and a half hours Tuesday, Dec. 14, listening to both sides of the issue. Although most residents at the meeting were against the turbines, there were a few that were for it, including at least one in close proximity to the proposed site, Galvin said.
“I don’t believe anyone in Prospect is against going green,” said Galvin, “The question is, where does it get put? It’s like a restaurant, location, location, location.”
The Council is responsible for the wellbeing of all its citizens, Galvin said.
“We’re always trying to represent the wishes of the residents of Prospect,” he said.
The resolution names Mayor Bob Chatfield to represent the Town of Prospect at the Connecticut Siting Council.
Given there are currently no rules and regulations governing wind turbines in Connecticut, the moratorium would give the state legislature some time to propose setbacks and safety regulations similar to those other states have adopted for wind turbines, Chatfield said.
Chatfield applied to be a party to address the Siting Council and asked for public hearing in Prospect so residents wouldn’t have to go all the way to New Britain, where the Siting Council normally holds meetings.
“We are a very green town, but there needs to be some guidelines or some regulations,” Chatfield said.
About 50 people attended the Town Council meeting including three representatives from BNE, according to Chatfield.
Most of the people he’s heard from who support the turbines don’t live near the proposed cite, he said.
“It’s a neighborhood issue,” Chatfield said.
Prospect State Representative Vickie Nardello and State Senator Joan Hartley are working to sponsor a moratorium on wind turbines in the state senate, following Prospect Town Council’s recommendation, according to Reilly.
Although Nardello and Hartley could not be reached for comment before press time, Pomeroy confirmed that he had spoken to them about the issue.
Siting Council has final say
Reilly said he hopes the Siting Council will set a date for a requested public hearing at its next meeting Jan. 6.
The Planning and Zoning Commission has 65 days from the time BNE’s application was filed to issue an order. This would give them until January 21 to decide what to do. If the Commission does issue an order, BNE would have 30 days to appeal, according to Connecticut State Statute 16-50x.
Reilly urged the council to take action soon.
“Without orders to back up what the [Prospect Town] Council has said, it is a hollow resolution,” Reilly said.
Ultimately, the Siting Council has exclusive jurisdiction over the wind turbine project. It can revoke any order by the zoning commission by a got of six of its nine members, according to a memo by legislative analyst Kevin McCarthy.
The Siting Council will balance the benefits of a proposed facility with the effects it may have on the environment and community, according to Siting Council Executive Director Linda Roberts.
The Siting Council looks at the merits of each petition individually.
“Otherwise, it would be just like getting a license,” said Roberts.
The Siting Council will also consider petitions from BNE for turbine sites in Colebrook North Colebrook South, she said.
Representatives from BNE did not return phone calls as of press time Thursday.