BOURNE – With two public meetings under their belts, the backers of the New Generation Wind project spent Monday night’s Cape Cod Commission subcommittee hearing addressing concerns including health issues and the financial impacts of their seven proposed turbines.
A mix of supporters – wearing the red-and-blue “Yes” buttons associated with wind energy advocates – and wary residents packed the Bourne High School library for a standing-room-only discussion of the pros and cons of the project.
New Generation Wind proposes to build six 2.5-kilowatt turbines and one two-kilowatt turbine in the area of a proposed Bournedale technology park on land owned by New Generation partners the Lorusso family, which owns Cape Cod Aggregates, and the Panhandle Trust.
Three turbines would be located on the land proposed for the technology campus, three on land abutting Route 25 owned by the trust, and one on a 25-acre parcel off Route 6 owned by Cape Cod Aggregates.
Kicking off the meeting, commission regulatory officer Page Czepiga told the audience that the county board’s staff still has concerns about the project’s effect on Bournedale’s local character and open space, as well as New Generation’s plans for offsetting their use of hazardous materials at the turbine sites.
The staff’s Nov. 8 report on the project found that it still does not conform to commission standards regarding the use of hazardous waste, the creation of open space and the affect on scenic roadways, Czepiga said. Whether the project conforms to other regulations, including stormwater runoff and pollution prevention, has not been determined, she said.
She added that the commission does not currently have standards for turbine blade flicker, noise or health issues, but would consider those in determining whether the project’s benefits would outweigh its problems.
Despite that, discussion during the rest of the meeting revolved around the issues of noise and health.
Representatives from New Generation touted the proposed project’s ability to reduce the town’s reliance on fossil fuels and raise around $200,000 per year in tax revenue. They also pointed to studies that found turbine noise did not cause any ill effects.
Addressing concerns of the possible negative effects of the proposed turbines on abutting homeowners, New Generation partner and Cape Cod Aggregates spokesman Dave Peterson introduced the group’s plans to create a “green rebate program,” which would give discounts on abutters’ energy bills of up to $1,000 every year.
The company plans to set aside $100,000 each year for those rebates, he said.
But even the offer of an energy discount did not satisfy some of the dozens of Bournedale residents who gathered.
“Yeah, but does that make up for the loss of property value?” asked one man, who received applause for his comment.
Bourne Selectman Stephen Mealy echoed the sentiments of residents during the meeting, stating that the board of selectmen feels the project’s negatives will outweigh its benefits “except for those who are going to receive financial gain.”
In October, selectmen voted, with two abstentions, to oppose the turbine project due to concerns over “possible health issues, worries regarding existing home property values, and issues of overall quality of life,” according to the statement, which was sent to commission Executive Director Paul Niedzwiecki.
“It is a physiological and psychological nightmare,” living near a turbine, said Falmouth resident Neil Anderson of Blacksmith Shop Road, who has spoken extensively about the negative health effects he and his wife have suffered. He believes the medical issues have been caused by their home’s proximity to the town of Falmouth’s wind turbines.
Bourne’s board of health is also looking into the possible health issues for abutters, chairwoman Kathleen Peterson told the Times on Monday.
The board is reading up on the subject after around 50 residents showed up to a Nov. 10 meeting to express their concern, and plans to look at both sides of the issues for their own education, she said.
Monday’s meeting was most likely the last public hearing in front of the commission subcommittee that makes the final decision of whether to recommend the project for approval, Czepiga told the Times before the meeting. At the Times’ deadline, the public comment portion of the meeting had not been completed.
If the subcommittee gives its OK, the project would still need to be approved by several town boards.
The commission’s reviews have been fair and helpful so far, said Greg O’Brien, president of the Stony Brook Group in Brewster, who handles publicity for the New Generation project.
“We want to be as responsible as possible. “» And they will make this a better project,” he told the Times Monday.
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