NORTHBRIDGE – About 20 neighborhood residents are expected at a Zoning Board of Appeals hearing tomorrow night on an appeal of a decision by the building inspector to deny a permit for two wind turbines on Upton Street.
Mass Wind of Somerville is appealing a July 21 decision by Inspector of Buildings James Sheehan Jr.
Charles A. McCauley of 126 Clubhouse Lane said people living near the proposed wind turbines are worried they would harm the neighborhood. He said about 20 area residents are expected to attend the hearing, scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. in Town Hall.
Mr. Sheehan said in his decision that only public utilities are allowed in the Industrial 1 zoning district, and there is no evidence the Mass Wind turbines would be a public utility.
Moreover, Mr. Sheehan wrote, the proposed wind turbines, at 285 feet high, would be much taller than the 30-foot maximum height allowed in the zone.
“The application will remain as denied until such time that the proposed structures are in compliance with the zoning bylaw and state building code,” Mr, Sheehan said in the letter.
A reporter’s telephone call to Mass Wind seeking comment was not returned.
Lawyer Henry J. Lane, representing Mass Wind, replied to Mr. Sheehan several days after the July 21 decision. He said Mass Wind wasn’t suggesting the turbines would be a public utility and asserted that they are allowed at the proposed Upton Street site.
“Rather, its application is based on the proposition that power plants and manufacturing and light industries are permitted uses … Although the term ‘power plant’ is not defined in the zoning bylaws, wind turbines generate electricity and therefore are power plants in the literal sense. Similarly, the terms ‘manufacturing and light industries’ are not defined, but it would appear that generating electricity by wind turbines would fit comfortably within those categories.”
Mr. McCauley said residents have seen reports that say wind turbines could cause medical problems for people living near them. He also said residents are worried the turbines would cause their property values to go down. Plus, residents are concerned that ice stuck on the 77-foot-long blades could become dislodged and fly dangerously through the air.
Mr. McCauley said the closest condominium in the Shining Rock condominium development to the proposed wind turbines is about 750 feet away and the nearest house is about 850 feet away. He said his house is 1,265 feet away from the structures. He also said a water tower is about 550 feet away and a 194-foot-high cell phone tower about 565 feet away.
Mr. McCauley said he doesn’t want to halt the building of wind turbines in town.
“I’d just like to have them moved to a location where they won’t disturb the residents,” he said.
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