A group of Bayshore residents is redoubling efforts to derail the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority’s $7.7 million wind turbine.
The 380-foot wind turbine is slated to be built on authority land in Union Beach, about 1,080 feet from residents’ homes.
Residents say they’ll again voice their opposition at the authority’s public meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.
The latest citizens’ protest has been spearheaded by Union Beach residents Bart and Susan Sutton, who are seeking signatures on a form letter to Gov. Chris Christie, asking him to hold up turbine construction. Bart Sutton said he mails about 20 to 40 of those signed letters to governor’s office each week.
Of those Union Beach residents surveyed so far, Sutton said, about 80 percent oppose the turbine, 15 percent favor it and 5 percent are undecided.
“When we’re done with this process, we’ll forward that list, along with copies of the letter, to all our legislators so they can actually see how residents feel,” Sutton added.
Sutton asked the Union Beach Borough Council earlier this month to place a turbine referendum on the borough’s November election ballot. But Mayor Paul Smith Jr. said the deadline for placing questions on this year’s election ballot already has passed.
“No one has actually bothered to put a question on a ballot to see if the community is for it or against it,” Sutton said.
The Suttons aren’t the only area residents still fighting to stop the turbine.
Two Hazlet-based environmental groups – the Hazlet Area Quality of Life Alliance and the Hazlet Environmental Commission – have protested at municipal, sewerage authority and Monmouth County Freeholders meetings.
The freeholders in August passed a resolution opposing the turbine construction and wrote a letter to Christie asking him to review the project and possibly place a moratorium on construction until he had examined it. The freeholders have not received a reply from the governor’s office, a county spokeswoman said.
Union Beach resident William Heller has created www.noturnbine.com – a website containing reports and videos purporting the potential harmful effects of building a wind turbine close to residential areas.
A notice on Union Beach’s website – www.unionbeach.net – directs users to noturbine.com – which exhorts residents to attend the authority meeting to let authority officials know they’re still opposed to the project despite its DEP approval and construction start.
Construction of a 240-foot base, on which the turbine will be set, is on schedule to be completed by next January, authority Executive Director Robert C. Fischer said.
Test piles, requisite to installing the turbine foundation base, are expected to be completed by next week, and permanent piles will be installed to serve as the foundation base, Fischer said.
The turbine, proposed by the authority in 2009 and approved last June, will help reduce Bayshore customers’ sewerage utility bills over the next three years, utility officials said.
But it has generated a hailstorm of public dissent by local residents who claim that the turbine will lower property values, hurt the ecology and create noise and light pollution. Residents also said that with its projected 380-foot height from the base to the top of each of its three blades when at apex, the turbine will be an eyesore.
However, Fischer said much of the information on the opponents’ website can be misleading.
“There’s a difference between a sole wind turbine and a turbine farm,” said Fischer, referring to wind turbine studies on the Union Beach website that examine the effects of multiple turbines on a residential area.
Fischer said Monday’s meeting will give the authority a chance to clarify misconceptions about a turbine’s impact upon property values, the environment and quality of life issues.
Fischer said the authority will issue a new newsletter in the next two weeks that contains information about studies conducted on wind turbine construction.
Union Beach isn’t the only Jersey Shore town considering building a wind turbine. Turbines also are proposed in Bradley Beach and Sea Girt.
In Sea Girt, residents are opposed to a 406-foot, 1.5-megawatt turbine that’s being proposed for a site at the New Jersey National Guard Training Center, south of the borough.
Bradley Beach officials on Monday proposed to build a roughly 15-foot wind turbine that they say would help reduce borough taxpayers’ sewer rates.
In Ocean County, Ocean Gate approved and constructed a 120-foot, 50-kilowatt turbine last October to help supplement the municipality’s energy usage.