College Wind Turbine Backers Appeal Rejection of Project
By: James Kinsella
Proponents of the construction of a 600-kilowatt wind turbine at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable have appealed a town committee's decision to prohibit construction of the $4 million turbine.
Last Friday, attorney Bruce P. Gilmore of Yarmouthport, representing the turbine proponents, appealed the January 29 decision of the Barnstable Old King's Highway Historic District Committee to not issue a certificate of appropriateness for the turbine. The committee voted 3-1 against issuing the certificate.
Mr. Gilmore filed the appeal of the town committee’s decision with the Old King's Highway Regional Historic District Commission, which handles regulatory approvals for an area that extends along and near Route 6A from Sandwich through Orleans.
James R. Wilson, administrative counsel for the regional commission, said the appeal likely would be held during the commission’s next meeting, tentatively set for March 2. The time and place are to be announced.
The appeal cited three grounds: that the "decision was against the substantial weight of the evidence in favor of the certificate of appropriateness;" that the committee committed an error of law in its interpretation of Section 10 of the legislative act governing the district; and that the "decision was arbitrary and capricious."
The appeal seeks a reversal of the town committee's decision and the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness.
Mr. Gilmore filed the appeal on behalf of contractor J.K. Scanlan Co. Inc. of East Falmouth, the state Division of Capital Asset Management, and the community college.
The college had proposed erecting a 164-foot turbine tower, with a rotor blade that would reach a height of 242 feet at its tip, as well as building an access road.
The project was slated to be built near the western edge of college land near the intersection of routes 132 and 6A in West Barnstable.
College officials said the turbine would save $168,000 in energy costs through generating electricity, and provide a "living laboratory" for the college's renewable energy curriculum.
But the historic district committee, at its meeting January 29 at the West Barnstable Community Center, voted 3-1 against approving the project.
The committee's written decision, filed February 3 with the Barnstable town clerk's office, specifically states the proposed turbine does not meet the standards of the state law that governs the powers and duties of committees operating under the act.
"In summary, the proposed wind turbine, which to the end of the rotor blade, is the height of a 23-story building, does not comply with the standards set forth in Section 10 of the Acts of Chapter 470, as amended," the committee decision states.
"The large, industrial scale of the proposed facility, a moving rotor blade, a light at the top of the turbine and at the end of the rotor blades, and the overall design of the facility are incompatible with the historic character of the Old King's Highway District," the committee states.
In its decision, the committee states that the proposed location of the turbine makes the facility potentially visible from a broad section of the district and even from Sandy Neck.
Section 10 states that the committee "shall consider the energy advantage of any proposed solar or wind device."
In that regard, according to its decision, "the committee considered the energy advantage of the proposal, but found that the adverse impact of the project upon the historic values and character of the district were too great."
According to the state law, the regional commission has 30 days from the filing of an appeal to hear evidence and determine the facts.
The law states: "Should the commission finds that the committee exceeded its authority or exercised poor judgment, was arbitrary, capricious, or erroneous in its action, the commission shall annul the committee determination of approval and remand the case to said committee for further action, or revise the determination of the committee and issue the appropriate certificate or deny it."
Any regional commission decision can further be appealed to district court.
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