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Duxbury voters adopt wind turbine zoning amendments

By a vote of 36 to 12, Duxbury voters approved zoning amendments that spell out where and how off-the-grid wind turbines can be sited in the town.

Voters cast ballots on January 31. At press time on February 2, the Duxbury Town Clerk's office was closed due to snow and Town Clerk Ken Scott was unavailable to verify details of the vote.

The Duxbury Select Board and Planning Commission brought forth the wind turbine amendment in response to a citizen petition. The modifications were in response to a petition presented on December 30, 2009.

Wind turbines that feed into the electrical grid are regulated by the Vermont Public Service Board using the Town Plan as a guide. Off-the-grid turbine projects are regulated at the local level. Prior to these amendments, the town's zoning ordinance did not speak to wind power at all.

The newly passed amendments establish which zones in the town are appropriate for wind turbines and also detail review conditions. The new language requires a town permit for any wind project not reviewed by the state. It also allows wind turbines as conditional or permitted uses in all districts of the town, except the high elevation ecological reserve lands district and the wetland subdistrict.

The amendments establish a height exemption for wind turbines and also increase the maximum allowable chimney height from 35 to 40 feet. In all the district, where turbines are allowed in the town, those taller than 130 feet are considered conditional uses requiring DRB approval.

The original petition as received by the town would have made wind turbines up to 130 feet a conditional use in the town's ecological reserve lands districts and the planning commission balked at that as it was inconsistent with Duxbury's Town Plan which prohibits structures of any kind and limits uses to ag, forestry and other low-intensity activities in that district.

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