News Feature

Brooklin
Web exclusive, October 14, 2010
Tower moratorium ordinances presented at Brooklin hearing

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by Jonathan Thomas

Approximately 25 people gathered in the Brooklin School library on Saturday morning, October 9, to learn more about the proposed moratorium ordinances for cell towers and wind turbines. No one spoke against the proposed ordinances, although there was a question about why the wind turbine moratorium would not cover small residential-size turbines.

The two moratorium ordinances will be put to the voters at a special town meeting on Saturday, October 23, at 9 a.m. in the Brooklin School.

Albert Smith, chairman of the selectmen, introduced Richard Hero and Frank John, the two co-chairmen of the Tower Ordinance Committee who drafted ordinances.

Hero explained that the purpose of the two moratorium ordinances was not to stop towers from ever being built in town, but to allow time for the committee to draft regulatory ordinances that could be voted on, perhaps at the April town meeting.

He cited the experiences in other towns where towers were being built without regulatory ordinances in place. He said one benefit of regulating cell towers is the ability to require cell phone companies to share space on a single tower when feasible. Another benefit is that a company may be required to post a bond to cover the cost of removing a tower if it were to be abandoned.

In response to a question by Phil Caper, Hero confirmed that although the moratorium to be voted on was for only 180 days, it would also give the selectmen power to extend it 180 days longer. There could only be one such extension, and would require a public hearing first to show why more time was necessary.

Hero and John said that the committee was already making progress in researching what other towns have done, and that areas of responsibility had been assigned to different members.

As reported in notes of the committee’s September 22 meeting, Hero and Paul Brayton are concentrating on cell tower issues. John, Rick Decker and Jon Hopkins are concentrating on the wind power ordinance. Suzanne Grosh is looking at administration and legal aspects for both ordinances. Cathy Rees is studying the application procedures for both ordinances.

Al Hutchins, who had been active in early meetings of the committee, resigned on September 27, but was present at the last portion of the October 9 hearing.

During the hearing, Richard Fowle asked why the moratorium on wind turbines was limited to “industrial” turbines, meaning those over 40 feet in height, and recommended that the committee “take a close look” at them. He was assured that they would be included in the final ordinance.

Fowle said after the meeting that contractor friends who had worked on small turbines in other towns had told him that they could be noisy.

The committee’s original charge from the selectmen says that the moratoria “not restrict consideration of permits for MET [meteorological] towers and wind turbines for individual residences.”