In Response to a proposal by the Town of Milton Board of Selectmen, the Planning Board met on Thursday night to discuss changes to zoning bylaws relative to wind turbine construction.
The proposed change would remove the requirement of a special permit for construction of a wind turbine and eliminate any involvement of the Planning Board. Pursuant to the change, the process of constructing a wind turbine would begin with the issuing of a building permit by the building inspector versus a special permit by the Planning Board. The change would also transfer any additional oversight on the Town's part to the Board of Selectmen.
"The Selectmen are taking the place of the Planning Board in making sure that [wind turbine] issues do not affect the people," explained Board chair Alex Whiteside.
The Board and community members raised two key concerns relative to the change- the process by which wind turbine projects would be overseen and the elimination of the Planning Board as a venue for public hearing. Town Administrator Kevin Mearn assured the Board that he and the Selectmen are prepared and open to fielding all public questions and concerns relative to wind energy projects.
"I have confidence that the project would receive the same level of review [by the Selectmen] as if it were in front of the Planning Board," commented Board member Peter Jackson.
Ultimately, the Board voted unanimously to approve the recommendation eliminating the requirement for special permits as well as the involvement of the Planning Board in any wind turbine construction projects.
"There was nothing wrong with the old bylaws, they were simply different. They gave the Board a lot of decisions to make, that were very hard to quantify," commented Whiteside.
Along with this recommendation, the Board included changes to zoning language requiring the center point of the base of any wind turbine to be located no nearer than 500 feet from any golf course green or fairway.