FRAMINGHAM – Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … a wind turbine?
If Staples officials have their way, they’ll soon be allowed to erect a tower that’s twice the town’s height limit of 80 feet in an effort to cut their energy costs by 20 percent a year.
Peter Barbieri, attorney for Staples, last night unveiled some details to the Zoning Board of Appeals of the office-supply giant’s plans to construct a 159-foot wind mast that would test the feasibility of a turbine behind its headquarters for a year. The board must approve the height variance.
The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative will pay for the feasibility study and part of the permanent construction, he said.
If the testing goes well, said Barbieri, Staples would build its permanent turbine – topped with three 77-foot-long blades that would put the maximum height at almost 240 feet – on the 30-acre site at 225 Crossing Boulevard.
Reaction at last night’s meeting was mixed, with most in the audience saying they support the concept of alternate energy sources, but had hoped to at least see drawings. Barbieri promised those for the next hearing Dec. 11.
“You’re asking us to guess,” said Town Meeting member David Marks. “It may not be as ugly as some of us think.”
Despite the height, said board member Karl Thober, most turbines are “almost totally silent.”
Barbieri noted that the turbine would be at least 1,000 feet from the Massachusetts Turnpike and 1,800 feet from any Framingham residence, but could be as close as 800 feet from homes in Ashland and Southborough.
Most people in the audience didn’t believe Barbieri’s assertion that the turbine wouldn’t be seen from homes.
“This will be seen for 10 miles,” said Precinct 10 Town Meeting member Bill McCarthy. “This town has enough issues with properties being negatively impacted by what’s in the neighborhood.”
Fellow Town Meeting member Dennis Paulsen agreed.
“You’re going to see this thing from the Weston (state) police barracks,” he said.
Precinct 1 Town Meeting member Kevin Crotty, though, believes Staples’ years as a good corporate neighbor should count for something.
“They should be commended for doing something positive,” he said.
By D. Craig MacCormack/Daily News staff
GateHouse News Service
14 November 2007
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