A week ago, the Hopkinton Town Council voted 3-2 to enact a change to the comprehensive plan and a change to the zoning ordinance intended to make development of wind energy more difficult. Prior to this, the Planning Board voted 3-2 to recommend against these changes and the Conservation Commission voted 4-1 against. My own reappointment to the Conservation Commission was up later in the agenda and I was opposed by the anti-renewable energy group who call themselves Hopkinton Citizens for Responsible Planning. I thank the Town Council for reappointing me 5-0.
The Conservation Commission over the past three years and multiple workshops studied wind energy and concludes it is a safe and effective way to achieve our vision for Hopkinton to:
Do our part to make a rapid transition from fossil fuel;
Preserve our farms;
Provide future land trust funding;
Generate new non-residential tax revenue.
I made a request days ahead of their vote that any Town Council members voting against wind energy to please state their alternative vision to achieve the above objectives. I will assume their silence confirms they have no Plan B.
The NIMBYs at Citizens for Responsible Planning who automatically oppose every solar and wind proposal have so far offered no ideas to address the climate crisis and the other points above. It is like it goes entirely over their head that this should be their concern. I guess that is why they are NIMBYs.
It was interesting at the two hearing nights for this vote that those in the audience in favor of wind outnumbered those opposing wind approximately two to one. Both audiences were small and easily accommodated, unlike the much larger turnouts for some of the big solar projects. I encourage the public to continue supporting wind energy. Town Council members acknowledged a future Town Council will likely vote the inevitable and approve wind turbines in Hopkinton. They spoke to the Conservation Commission continuing our research and recommendations for renewable energy. They expressed a vague feeling that Hopkinton is just not ready for wind turbines at this time. Not once did the three voting against wind clarify why we are not ready for wind. I don’t believe they have ever stated what claims among the many the NIMBYs have offered up that wind is dangerous have swayed them. For its part, the Conservation Commission has identified only two issues that survive scrutiny: noise and shadow flicker. Both are resolved with careful siting requirements.
Two rows of farmers left the hearing very disheartened. The town Land Trust is out of money and my understanding is the Town Council will not support any new bonds for preservation until we pay off the existing. I believe everyone will agree the town is going to look a whole lot different in the future because of this close and significant vote.
I suppose I am an optimist. I left the meeting with encouragement from the Town Council to continue our research and education. It will be most welcome to hear your positive vision to “Keep Hopkinton Country” at the Conservation Commission monthly meetings.