Ashfield to hold hearing on zoning bylaw on Monday

Recorder Staff
Friday, January 19, 2018

ASHFIELD — The Selectboard will hold a public information session to discuss a prospective Zoning Bylaw for Large Scale Industrial and Commercial Facilities on Monday at 6 p.m. in Town Hall.

The draft bylaw is intended to reduce negative environmental and public health impacts of large-scale industrial or commercial facilities that would create 10 acres or more of paved surface or alters 50 or more acres of land with construction. The bylaw would require performance standards for environmental and land use impacts associated with construction or operation, including: GIS mapping; a copy of permits and plans from federal, state and local regulatory agencies; a traffic impact study and roadway maintenance and repair agreements. It requires submission of any water withdrawal plans, hazardous materials management and stormwater management. There are also standards for a community and environmental impact analysis and health impact assessment.

In 2010, many residents were stunned by a proposal to install between four to eight 400-foot wind turbines along Ridge Hill, north of Ashfield Lake. The plan was withdrawn, but many residents worried about the impact of such a large facility on the town’s historic town center.

Another large-scale project, proposed in 2014, was a stretch of Tennessee Gas pipeline to traverse farmland in Ashfield. The opposition to the plan led 200 residents at a special town meeting to pass a resolution banning the pipeline and a Community Rights resolution that supported the rights of townspeople to hold public hearings and have a say in “all corporate, state or federal energy infrastructure or large-scale projects as they arise in town.” Tennessee Gas rejected Ashfield’s resolution, but the pipeline project was later tabled for other reasons.