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Fears trump cheers as CCC continues turbines review

Not seven wind turbines, not 492 feet high, and not if the sounds that the turbines make will have any adverse effect on our children’s health. That was the message some Bournedale residents passionately delivered to a Cape Cod Commission subcommittee tasked with reviewing New Generation Wind’s plan to build a series of turbines in the neighborhood.

The turbine project is designed to be the first tenant of, and provide electricity for, the green technology park proposed for a portion of more than 400 acres of Bournedale land.

That subcommittee, which continued its review of the project this week from where it left off on September 14, listened to another three hours of testimony from staff, the community, and the applicant.

Subcommittee members looked at new photo simulations, including expanded “viewsheds” that showed all of the towers that could be seen from various locations.

The applicant also showed the four specific simulations the subcommittee and commission had requested, ones depicting what the public would see from the bridges and scenic outlooks on both sides of the Cape Cod Canal, were the project to be built as planned.

Those simulations had been requested because the standard under which the commission is reviewing the project allows members to take into account any adverse visual impact the project might have.

Royden Richardson of Barnstable, a subcommittee member and chairman of the full commission, which will hear and vote on the subcommittee’s recommendations, looked at one picture of a man standing next to a turbine similar in size to the ones planned for the Bournedale property, and then questioned whether the simulations were accurate.

The applicant’s expert, in response, assured him that they were, saying that they used similarly sized turbines in their simulations, but that distance and perspective made them appear smaller.

Commission staff told the subcommittee that they had no applicable noise standard, but provided information on the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s noise policy. Staff also recommended that the applicant provide data taken during nighttime hours, information that would let the commission know how much higher than ambient, or background, noise the turbines would be during the quieter hours of the day.

Several of the neighbors were there, including J. Hendrick Leuke, a Mirasol Drive resident who prepared a PowerPoint presentation to ask the subcommittee to look into low frequency sounds produced by turbines. He and his wife asked that the commission delay its decision-making to allow for information coming from the First International Symposium on the Global Wind Industry. That symposium, sponsored by The Society for Wind Vigilance, will be held in Canada at the end of October.

Several people rose to ask the subcommittee to carefully consider the issue, using independent consultants if necessary, particularly since so many parents had fears that the sound might be audible from Bournedale Elementary School.

One speaker, however, a wind turbine supporter, rose to say that turbine technology was not experimental. She said that those who were afraid of its adverse impact might be able to find statistics and information on the Internet to reinforce those fears, but that she had no such concerns.

Town Planner Coreen V. Moore answered the commission’s questions to her by saying that the Bournedale project was consistent with town zoning and with the Local Comprehensive Plan.

Selectman Stephen F. Mealy, who was present at the hearing, as were several other selectmen, said that his board had taken no vote on the project, but has some comments as an individual. He urged the subcommittee to take long-term issues into consideration, including the setting of conditions that would address what might occur some 20 or 25 years down the road, when making its recommendations.
Planning board Chairman Christopher J. Farrell, whose board will review the project if it passes Cape Cod Commission review, was present, but did not speak.

Board of health Chairman Galon L. (Skip) Barlow, who invited project neighbors to send his board their health concerns during last week’s board of health meeting, told the subcommittee he thought his board might need to weigh-in on those concerns, and asking the subcommittee to do the same.

Barry Wood, superintendent of the Buzzards Bay Water District, rose to report on the district commissioners’ decision not to release the portion of the Cape Cod Aggregates property, which includes that company’s gravel pit, from a designation as an area of potential public water supply. That company’s property is a part of the 400-acre Bournedale site at issue. Along with the potential water supply designation, the land has been designated as a district of critical planning concern.

The four subcommittee members heard all of the issues, many repeated from the previous meeting, and then left the record open to hear what the applicant promised would be “a fuller exploration” of all the questions both the neighbors and the commission staff had raised.

Commission staff member Page Czepiga said yesterday that the date of the next subcommittee hearing had not as yet been set, but that a notice of that meeting would be posted on the website and sent directly to those directly affected, including the abutting neighbors.