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Hedges Pond Road turbines under fire; 130 neighbors say the ZBA should deny the permit  

Credit:  By Emily Clark, Wicked Local Plymouth, www.wickedlocal.com 22 November 2010 ~~

PLYMOUTH – The proposed turbines on Hedges Pond Road are the height of the Great Pyramid at Giza, according to Treetop Way resident Jeff Cohen, and that’s just too darn big for a residential neighborhood.

Actually, experts say the Great Pyramid at Giza is 455-feet-tall, or 25 feet shorter than the planned turbines.

Two turbines proposed for the Hedges Pond Road area would loom 480.5 feet from the base of the structure to the tip of the blade, causing many neighbors to balk at the shear size of the project.

They balked and then they walked into Town Hall at 7 p.m., Wednesday, half an hour before the Zoning Board of Appeals was set to open its hearing. More than 130 residents of the Hedges Pond Road area of South Plymouth filled the seats of the Mayflower Meeting Room and overflowed into the hallways outside to hear the Zoning Board’s decision on plans to site two wind turbines in their neighborhood.

Former Energy Committee Chairman James Sweeney says his company, Sustainable New Energy, wants to lease the property at 143 Hedges Pond Road to site two wind turbines capable of generating 2 megawatts of electricity, some of which would be sold to the town. Cranberry grower Jeanine Anderson is the trustee of Jeanine Anderson Realty Trust, which owns the property.

Sweeney likened opposition to the turbines to backlash over the automobile when it rolled onto the world stage at the turn of the 20th century. Turbines are a wonderful source of clean energy that displaces the need for fossil fuels – a step that must be taken to ensure a green future, free of dependence on foreign oil, he added.

But many residents say the proposed turbines would be an eyesore, destroy the quality of life, drastically reduce property values, create a nuisance and cause a potential hazard.

“I think it is absurd that anyone would come before a board in this town and try to erect a wind turbine that is 480-feet-tall, which is the same height as the Great Pyramid of Giza,” Treetop Way resident Jeff Cohen said. “And, if you haven’t been to Egypt, it is 100 feet taller than the WPLM radio towers. Now keep in mind, the Great Pyramid and radio tower do not move – the turbine’s blade rotates at up to 180 miles per hour and can hurtle ice up to 1,300 feet.”

Cohen noted that Sweeney helped draft the zoning bylaws pertaining to wind turbines during his tenure on the Energy Committee and he is now benefiting from those bylaws as a proponent of a multi-million dollar project. “People, I think, don’t truly understand the effect flicker has and how nauseating it really is,” Dyer Pass resident Darren Mansfield said. He works in an office in the shadow of the Falmouth turbine, he added, and the shadow flicker is extremely distracting and detrimental to his overall well being.

But Sweeney says the turbines are good for Plymouth environmentally and financially. He noted that shadow flicker effect will be greatly reduced by dense tree coverage in the area and that the turbines will supply electricity to the town for use in municipal buildings at a fixed, discounted rate.

“The project is expected to generate about $76,000 annually in property tax revenues to the town,” Sweeney added.

Orleans filmmaker and turbine advocate Liz Argo played a video she shot for the board showing abutters to several turbines in New England, all of whom said the turbines had no impact on property values, didn’t cause a disturbance and were anything but a hazard or eyesore. However, one woman interviewed in this film who advocated in favor of turbines admitted she “wigged out” once a week over the turbine and its noise, which disturbed her sleep.

Kerry Kearney of Treetop Way presented his own video rebutting the engineer’s technical data regarding the visual impact of the turbines. He contends that the proponents have misrepresented the severity of this impact. Others say data on the noise impact was equally inaccurate.

“I’m very concerned about the noise level,” Mary Kenny said. “They did sound at ground level at the bottom of the tower and my house is dramatically taller than that. They have no idea what the sound will be up here.”

The town’s zoning bylaw stipulates a 60-decibel sound limit for wind turbine projects. Kenny noted that three Hedges Pond Road houses tested at 56.6 decibels with the new turbines. Attorney Ed Angley, representing the applicant, noted that 60 decibels is the sound level of a refrigerator.

Sweeney counters that a study with a panel of experts determined that there is no evidence that the sound, vibration, appearance or shadow flicker effect of wind turbines cause health problems. Sweeney said “the fear factor” is to blame for the proliferation of “myths” about turbines, that they are noisy, harmful and can decrease property values.

Opponents to the wind turbines cite their own studies that suggest turbines can cause insomnia, panic attacks and vertigo. Sweeney suggested that the nation’s move to green energy, like wind turbines, could help end wars like the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan and save American lives.

The Zoning Board of Appeals closed the public comment portion of the hearing and continued it to 9 p.m., Dec. 1, when more information regarding the need for this particular height is available.

Source:  By Emily Clark, Wicked Local Plymouth, www.wickedlocal.com 22 November 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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