PLYMOUTH – There wasn’t much opposition at Monday’s Planning Board meeting to a plan to erect two wind turbines on cranberry bog uplands off Hedges Pond Road. The Planning Board will recommend the Zoning Board Appeals approve a special permit for the project.
Former Energy Committee Chairman Jim Sweeney says his company, Sustainable New Energy, wants to lease the property at 143 Hedges Pond Road as the to site for two wind turbines capable of generating 2 megawatts of electricity. Jeanine Anderson Realty Trust owns the property, and cranberry grower Jeanine Anderson is a trustee.
While other turbine plans have kicked up controversy over possible adverse affects on neighborhoods from sound, shadow flicker effect and appearance, this proposal drew little comment at the meeting.
According to an analysis of the impacts of the turbines, three homes would experience more than 30 hours of shadow flicker effect per year, exceeding the amount experts say a person can withstand without it becoming a nuisance. Europe has adopted this 30-hour shadow flicker effect standard; America has none but boards use the European nuisance limit as a guideline.
Shadow flicker effect is the on-again-off-again light and shadow play of a wind turbine’s blades as they rotate. The rotation of the earth and the movement of the sun’s rays limit this effect on any particular location. Some studies suggest it can be detrimental to sleep patterns, cause anxiety and become a nuisance. Other studies refute these findings. However, the technical analysis of these three homes assumed a flat landscape, when they are actually surrounded by trees, Atlantic Design engineer Richard Tabaczynski said.
“There will be a significant amount of screening that will be there that will diminish the flicker effect,” he added, and if the neighbors deem the flicker a nuisance, Sustainable New Energy will provide mitigation, such as window shades, more screening or the installation of a module on the turbine that will shut it down during some key flicker times.
While the turbines would be 100-meters tall, they would sit in a depressed valley, reducing their visibility to 60 meters, Attorney Ed Angley said.
But Planning Board member Tim Grandy said an artist’s rendering of one of the turbines indicates the proposal will adversely impact the visual character of 65 Treetop Way. The zoning bylaw specifies that projects shouldn’t have such an impact, he added, especially since it could impact the property value of the home.
Sweeney countered that there are no studies that confirm a link between wind turbines and property values.
“Generally, I think it’s naïve to think that a structure like this is going to affect nobody anywhere,” Planning Board Chairman Marc Garrett said. But the board heard no complaints from Treetop Way or anywhere else.
The vote was 3-1 to recommend the Zoning Board of Appeals OK the special permit; Grandy voted against the recommendation. Board member Larry Rosenblum was not present.
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