The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, August 28, 2009

Town Counsel stalls wind turbine construction

Carlisle homeowners interested in building wind turbines will have to wait until the town has a bylaw in place specifically allowing wind power, Town Counsel explained to the Selectmen at their meeting on Tuesday, August 25. “If a use is not stated as being allowed, it is prohibited,” said Rich Hucksam, Jr. from Deutsch/Williams, the Boston-based firm that has acted as Carlisle’s legal counsel since February, 2000. “Wind turbines are not an allowed use.”

Hucksam met with the Selectmen at the board’s request to determine any legal vulnerability the town might have if a resident decided to construct wind turbines. The Selectmen had decided to delay consideration of a bylaw at the Town Meeting in May until further investigation could be done to demonstrate the efficacy of wind power in Carlisle. They did not want to create a new regulation until they had clarification that wind power was practical on the terrain in town. The Selectmen requested that Town Counsel provide an opinion on the town’s current ability to deter wind power installations until this further investigative work was done.

Hucksam described Carlisle’s position of deterring any alternative energy implementation unless specially allowed was consistent with that taken by other towns at present. He explained further that in order to install wind turbines in town today, a homeowner would have to demonstrate that they are “commonly” incidental and of “habitual use.” He added that it would be highly unlikely such a claim could be made and “the burden of proof is on the applicant.”

Chairman Timothy Hult sought clarification and asked if that would be “an extremely high hurdle.” Hucksam responded “yes.”

Michael Epstein, Planning Board vice-chair, specifically referenced the rescinding of a permit awarded in December 2007 to Keith Therrien on Berry Corner Lane about a year and a half ago. He noted that input from legal counsel about allowed uses had supported the denial of the permit. The denial had sparked the creation of the Alternative Energy Committee and investigation into a possible bylaw to govern the use of wind turbines in Carlisle. The Selectmen have invited the group to report later in the year on efficacy of wind power in Carlisle.

Municipal wind turbine?

Selectman Doug Stevenson wondered if the School Building Committee might investigate a municipal installation as part of the schematic design project currently underway at the Carlisle Public School. The research by the Alternative Energy Committee into the feasibility of wind power in Carlisle may show that a taller installation on higher elevation could work. Stevenson wanted to ensure that such a configuration could be considered and possibly permitted. The group concurred that investigation could occur and it made sense to consider it at the time when a school building project was under investigation. However, a bylaw would need to be place to govern any municipal wind turbine construction. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito