FRAMINGHAM – A Town Meeting member last night asked Staples Inc. to withdraw its proposal for a 160-foot wind tower that would test whether there is enough power to construct a turbine behind its headquarters.
Precinct 8 Town Meeting member Tom O’Neil said he hopes selectmen will create a study committee to look at bringing wind turbines to town and has submitted a proposed article to be included on a Town Meeting warrant.
Last night, Staples officials showed the Zoning Board of Appeals several simulations of how the turbine, which would be topped by three 77-foot blades, would look if it were built on 3 acres on Crossing Boulevard, showing the planned tower from several angles.
“There would be significant wooded buffer, not only here in Framingham but also for people in Ashland and Southborough,” said Peter Barbieri, lawyer for Staples. The proposed turbine would go about 20 revolutions per minute, officials said.
Some residents weren’t convinced by the presentation, which came during the zoning board’s second night of testimony on the appeal of Building Commissioner Michael Foley’s denial of the plan, which is more than triple the town’s 80-foot height limit. The next hearing is Jan. 8.
“The real reason I’m against it is I think they’re ugly,” said Precinct 10 Town Meeting member Bill McCarthy, who said the turbine at Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Hull often “feels like it’s in my backyard” when he is at his family’s summer home.
“Maybe there’s a good reason there are only three of these in the entire state,” he said.
McCarthy’s wife Kathie was similarly perplexed by the plan, saying the savings Staples will realize by finding alternative energy sources aren’t likely to be passed on to customers.
“None of us are going to see (the savings reflected) in the cost of a case of paper,” she said. “Once you have one, there are going to be more.”
Town Meeting member Pam Roberts asked Staples officials to come up with a plan that would protect residents from low-frequency sounds the turbine might generate, saying the noise is comparable to a train running through the area.
Town Meeting member Arsene Bajakian praised Staples for studying the wind levels before coming forward with a proposal for the turbine itself. Still, he worries about hazards caused by turbines, including danger to birds and the chances of a strobe light effect, as well as the possibility it could fall.
Bajakian also warned that the turbine could catch fire, break down, throw snow and ice onto the Massachusetts Turnpike or become a good spot for either advertising or cell phone towers, as well as possibly killing someone.
He said most turbines are built on the water or in open areas and noted that the Hull turbine is used as a public power source.
“These are big dangerous machines,” said Bajakian. “I think they’re fascinating. I think there’s a place for them.”
By Craig MacCormack
12 December 2007
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