HARWICH – Research is under way to determine whether it would be possible to change the proposed location of two, 400-foot-tall wind turbines in North Harwich.
Barry Worth, chairman of Harwich Utility and Energy Conservation Commission, told the Oracle that the consulting engineering firm Weston and Sampson has been asked to study whether the turbines could be relocated farther away from inhabited areas such as West Tupelo Drive, Birch Road and Headwaters Road. Some residents in those neighborhoods have balked at the town placing turbines at locations they say are too close to private properties.
Worth said that the closest home is about 1,000 feet away in the current proposal.
“The research is not done yet but we are trying to see if we can reposition both turbines to be located on the larger (70-acre) property,” said Worth, who explained that a number of calculations needed to be made in terms of setbacks, terrain and best location for available wind.
“If we can gain some distance from the adjacent homes, we might be up to 1,400 feet [away],” he added. The consultants are expected to make a determination within a few weeks.
Worth noted that most of the abutters had not objected point blank to the project but had instead simply wanted more distance from their homes. Many of the opponents have said they support wind power and want the town to be able to do a renewable energy project on this scale.
“[The distance of] 1,000 feet was an issue, so we’ve made a significant effort to make things more palatable for the abutters. Another 400 feet is a good distance,” he said.
Worth was criticized at last week’s selectmen’s meeting by resident Terry Hayden, who lives on Headwaters Drive and who read a forceful statement during in opposition to the project, laying partial blame on the inaction of Worth’s commission.
“Yes, the process has been longer but we found that there have been more issues that we’ve had to cover and we didn’t want to rush anything,” he said in response.
Worth said he can handle his critics.
“My career was in customer service so I can take it. I understand their concerns and we’ve been talking a lot on the project issues,” he said.
He even pointed out that a few days after Hayden had leveled criticism against his efforts, she attended a commission meeting and even made a point to thank members for their willingness to answer questions. Hayden confirmed this and told the Oracle that she know “better understands their position.”
One additional change that Worth made at the end of last week was to increase the number of neighborhood property owners who will be notified about an upcoming hearing in April regarding the project.
He said that change was made after Rick Toma of West Tupelo Drive asked for more notification.
“I think it added some 40 or 50 properties,” Worth said. Toma called this “very good news.”
Depsite all of Worth’s work, Hayden is holding firm in her personal opposition to the project, even if the distance is increased to 1,400 feet.
“Industrial turbines belong in industrial areas,” she said. “I don’t think the newer distance would make any of the 400 homeowners within 3,000 feet happy.”
In the meantime, Worth noted that a chartered bus trip has been scheduled for Friday, March 5, to take town board members and some residents to two sites on Cape Cod to look at wind turbine projects.
“We’ll be going to Falmouth and to the Massachusetts Military Reservation,” he said.
“Looking at existing projects I think will help everyone understand the issues better.”
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