FRAMINGHAM – Staples officials say they aren’t planning to wait for the town to adopt a wind turbine bylaw before getting a ruling from the Zoning Board of Appeals on their appeal of a height variance for their 240-foot tower.
Peter Barbieri, the lawyer representing the office supply giant, also told board members this week not to expect to see a balloon hovering behind the company’s headquarters on Crossing Boulevard to show the proposed height.
In addition to the weather conditions making a balloon or other tall item less than ideal, Barbieri noted that such a plan would not give viewers a full appreciation of what a turbine would actually look like.
He reiterated the plan to move forward with Staples’ proposal, which would involve a one-year study of the wind using a wind mast if the zoning board allows the company to build the 160-foot tower.
Should those results show enough wind power to cut the company’s energy costs significantly, they would affix three 77-foot long rotating blades to the tower.
Board member Susan Craighead asked Staples officials why they can’t hold off on the proposed turbine until the town adopts a bylaw to govern them. The Standing Committee on Planning and Zoning filed a similar request this month.
“The issue is one of time,” said Barbieri, saying Staples officials are not sure if the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative will offer another round of funding for turbines beyond the current cycle.
“This has been talked about for well over a year. Having to wait what could be months is not something we’re willing to consider,” he told zoning board members Tuesday night.
The Greener Framingham Committee will host an educational forum on using wind power and wind turbines on Feb. 11, the day before the zoning board’s hearing on Staples’ proposal continues.
That forum, said Greener Framingham Committee Chairwoman Dawn Harkness, is not tied to Staples’ plans. If the town drafts a wind turbine bylaw, it is not likely to be ready by the start of the annual Town Meeting in April, she said.
Precinct 10 Town Meeting member Kathie McCarthy joined the group asking for Staples to slow down its planned turbine, which was first discussed with town officials at a Planning Board meeting in June 2006.
“It’s to the benefit of Staples to do this right, not slide it through,” she said.
Zoning Board Chairman Phil Ottaviani noted that the turbine is an allowed use and that the appeal is based only on the height of the proposed structure, which would be three times the town’s 80-foot limit.
“I think we need to put science before politics,” said Town Meeting Precinct 16 Chairman William LaBarge, who added he doesn’t believe Framingham has enough wind to support the turbine.
“We need to have an open mind and stop with all the nitpicking,” he said.
By Craig MacCormack
24 January 2008
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