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Greenfield biomass plans undecided

Recorder file photo
Greenfield's proposed biomass plant would be built on Butternut Street in the Interstate 91 Industrial Park.

Recorder file photo Greenfield's proposed biomass plant would be built on Butternut Street in the Interstate 91 Industrial Park. Purchase photo reprints »

“I’m still trying to figure things out,” said Matthew Wolfe of Madera Energy Inc. of Cambridge, the company that wants to build the Pioneer Renewable Energy biomass electricity generator on Butternut Street, on Thursday.

“I’m still considering everything, but there have been no changes to the plans,” said Wolfe.

Recently, a Superior Court judge approved an agreement between opponents of the plan and Madera, which says the project will have to go back before the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, because Wolfe changed the cooling method of the plant after the board issued a special permit three years ago.

Originally, Wolfe was going to use the town’s sewage treatment plant effluent to cool the plant, but Wolfe changed the method to a dry one just before the town voted overwhelmingly to disallow the sale of effluent for cooling the plant.

Critics and Wolfe are due back in court on Sept. 9 to give the judge an update.

Wolfe also has 120 days from the date of the judge’s decision to schedule a new review of his project with the town’s ZBA, which would mean he’d have to go before it sometime before the end of July.

When he goes before the board, it appears he will have to present new plans and a public hearing will have to be held.

When Wolfe went before the board with his project several years ago, he said the plant would generate enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of 45,000 homes and would bring to town up to 25 permanent jobs, 250 construction jobs, and up to 150 jobs to harvest and transport wood and wood chips.

At the same time Wolfe is trying to decide what his next step will be, a group of concerned citizens, who have fought the plant from the beginning, have filed a petition with the town to stop large-scale wood-burning facilities like Wolfe’s from being built in Greenfield for the next year and a half.

The citizens who signed the petition penned by Janet Sinclair of Shelburne Falls are asking for a moratorium on all “waste-to-energy” plants until September 2014.

Town Council, which is waiting for a recommendation from the Planning Board and from its own Economic Development Committee, is expected to take the matter up, and possibly vote on it, at its monthly meeting on April 17.

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