HARWICH – Harwich selectmen on Monday heard from several opponents to the town’s plan to install two, 400-foot wind turbines on water department land in North Harwich, and the proposal brought one homeowner to tears.
About a dozen critics of the plan spoke at length, pushing the meeting past 11:15 p.m., and several pleaded with selectmen to abandon the project.
Resident Alice Kuntz asked Rick Toma to show the selectmen what the impact of shadow flicker would be like in a home. Toma walked to the light switch and began to turn off half the lights every one second to demonstrate the passing shadow of the turbine blades.
The exercise moved resident Karen Baker to address the board, choking back tears. She said that she had recently moved to the North Harwich neighborhood and built a home with large windows that would be exposed to the flicker.
Selectman Larry Cole suggested that awnings could be used to block the flicker. His remark was met with multiple outcries from attendees.
Meanwhile, Harwich Board of Health told selectmen it needs more time to assess wind turbine impact issues, such as noise and shadow flicker.
Selectmen earlier this year had asked the board to study the possible health impacts of the proposed turbines. Chairman of the Board of Health Dr. Stanley Kocut said, “We can’t find any direct effects from wind turbine exposure,” but added that the board still needs to assess other issues, such as noise and shadow flicker.
Maps showing the setbacks from the proposed turbines indicate that one turbine is 1,308 feet from the nearest home and the second is 1,391 feet. These locations, which have been changed at the request of the neighbors protesting the project, provide 988 feet between the two turbines.
A total of four articles at May town meeting, including one to abandon the plan, may decide the fate of the project, which is designed to offset municipal electricity costs and enable the town to sell excess energy into the grid.
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