Neighbors of five cranberry bogs voiced their opposition to a project that could bring eight wind turbines to the bogs, located off of Blackmore Pond Road, Charge Pond Road, and Route 28. Residents cited concerns about noise the turbines would bring, as well as the possible decrease of property values caused by the construction.
In a partnership among private cranberry bog owners and wind developers from Beaufort Windpower LLC, of Boston, the Bog Wind Power Cooperative Project is hoping to construct the turbines beginning this December. The goal is to provide nearly 40 million kilowatt hours per year of electricity for Massachusetts and an alternative source of income for bog owners.
But many homeowners, though acknowledging the need for alternative energy sources, told the Board of Selectmen Tuesday that Wareham isn’t the place for the large, 492 foot turbines.
“The character and the scenic piece of Wareham is history if we allow a 494 foot piece of equipment, let alone eight of them,” said former-Selectman and Charge Pond Road resident John Cronan, who spoke on behalf of several of his neighbors.
The turbines, which would be the largest used on the East Coast if the Zoning Board of Appeals approves the Bogwind proposal, are about twice the size of the wind turbine at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, with about four times the “swept area” (the circle formed by the blades of the turbine).
“These bog locations have low wind, except when you go up very, very high,” Christopher Senie, a lawyer hired by a group of Blackmore Pond Road residents, told Selectmen. For that reason, the turbines must extend high into the air in order to reach favorable “wind shear,” or the increase in wind speed with height.
Due to the dramatic wind shear, the turbines cause disruption to neighbors. “You hear it. You feel it,” said Senie, who has worked with residents in other towns who are affected by noise caused by wind turbines.
Beaufort Windpower LLC Founder and President Glen Berkowitz, reached by phone Wednesday, said he understood that residents are concerned about noise. He noted that the proposed distances between the turbines and residences is a minimum of 1,500 feet, and technical studies the company conducted “show that sound will not be an issue.”
In addition to noise, property owners worried about how the turbines would affect the value of their properties.
“We have issues with our property value, with our scenic value,” said Blackmore Pond Road resident Jeffrey Pavao. “When I look out my dining room window, I’m going to see this humongous thing sitting there.”
Berkowitz said he expected that the turbines would be blocked up-close by trees.
The Selectmen meeting Tuesday provided a forum for residents to voice their concerns, as the board does not need to vote on the project. The Bog Wind Power Cooperative Project must next obtain approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) at its Sept. 22 meeting. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Town Hall lower level cafeteria. The Bogwind discussion is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Selectmen Chair Jane Donahue said further study could be needed to determine if perhaps there are better locations for the turbines. “I urge our ZBA to take a really hard look at this,” she said.
Berkowitz was optimistic. “We look forward to discussing the facts of [the] studies with the ZBA and we encourage all residents to attend these meetings with an open mind,” he said. “We’re confident that the ZBA and fair-minded residents will agree that these proposed sites are the best ones in Wareham for wind power.”
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