November 7, 2007

Approval for wind tower urged in Plymouth: Neighbors opposed, but planning board favors proposal

PLYMOUTH – Wind energy is great, but a 350-foot wind turbine may be too much of a good thing for Mountain Hill Road residents.

Planning board members recommended that the zoning board of appeals allow a 200-foot test tower to be built on a 76-acre parcel south of Bloody Pond, between Route 3 and Mountain Hill Road. The tower would be the precursor to Mulcor Wind’s three-turbine wind project on the same site.

The planning board made its decision Monday night, despite stiff opposition from neighborhood residents who packed town hall to protest the plan.

‘‘It’s not that we’re against wind energy, but the drop zone for one of the turbines would be within 85 to 200 feet of our neighbors,’’ Mountain Hill Road resident William Gould said. ‘‘These things are monstrous, and they are right on top of our neighborhood. The impact would be devastating.

‘‘The bylaw says five acres and wind is enough for a turbine. If this is approved, what neighborhood is next?’’

Gould said the town should create a master plan for wind turbines. He also said his neighborhood should not have to host a private, for-profit wind project.

Nonetheless, planning board members support the project if Mulcor officials can provide more detail on the company’s plans to sell power to the public grid and can address neighbors’ concerns about noise, property values and other issues.

The turbines would produce less noise than traffic on nearby Route 3 would, planning board member Paul McAlduff said. He added that a survey of Hull homeowners showed that the two large turbines in Hull did not adversely affect home prices.

‘‘This is a good project,’’ McAlduff said. ‘‘The company has done its research.’’

Mulcor’s plans call for three turbines ranging in height from 225 feet to 325 feet. The company is considering donating one site to Plymouth and then leasing it, which would produce lease revenue for the town.

Mulcor Vice President Wayne DelPico has met twice with neighbors and once with a village association.

‘‘There are some legitimate concerns, and we are working on those,’’ he said.

Mulcor needs a special permit from the appeals board for the test tower. It would need the board’s approval again if it wanted to proceed with the three-turbine plan.

An appeals board hearing on the test-tower proposal is scheduled for Dec. 5 at town hall.

As required by the town’s bylaw, Mulcor personnel flew three red balloons four feet in diameter at the site several weeks ago so neighbors and planning board members could see how tall the three proposed turbines would be.

For three days, the balloons were easily visible from Route 3.

Mulcor’s engineer is making a three-dimensional model of the turbines to show planning board members and neighbors, should the project go forward, McAlduff said.

Planning board member Loring Tripp cast the only opposing vote on the test-tower request.

‘‘It’s not a good location for the industrial use,’’ Tripp said. ‘‘Let’s get one of these things up in a more appropriate location and see what they look like and how they operate before we start out with one in someone’s back yard.’’

Tripp said the town has identified sites at Plymouth South High School, the wastewater treatment plant on Long Pond Road and land near the prison as possible locations for wind towers.

‘‘If we get off on the wrong foot by starting in someone’s back yard, it will hurt us down the road with future proposals,’’ he said.

By Tamara Race

The Patriot Ledger

7 November 2007

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