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Piney Point residents opposed to potential wind turbine; Committee formed to pursue harnessing wind energy at Great Hill  

Credit:  By Chris Reagle, Wicked Local Marion, www.wickedlocal.com 26 November 2010 ~~

MARION – Selectmen came to their Nov. 16 meeting to appoint members to the town’s newly named Great Hill Turbine Committee, which would study the feasibility of a wind turbine on the Stone Estate at Great Hill, but when they looked out over the usually bare seats at the board’s bi-weekly meeting they found them filled with residents from the east side of town who are not only against a potential wind mill in their backyard, but opposed to the composition of the ad hoc committee.

The proposed location is near the water tower at the top of Great Hill. This location is within 1,750 feet of places in Wings Cove in an area where people boat, swim, clam, fish and kayak. It is also within 3,000 feet of many houses on Piney Point and within less than 5,000 feet of most Piney Point and Delano Road residences.

When the portion of the meeting convened dealing with the committee appointment, Marion Selectman Chairman Roger Blanchette tried to quell the polite but anxious crowd.

“Nothing is happening tonight,” Blanchette said. “All we are doing is appointing a committee.”

But the approximately 15 people, mostly residents from the Piney Point area, were even less convinced when Blanchette reminded them that last spring’s annual Town Meeting approved a bylaw a wind harnessing turbine in town. Blanchette said that the committee appointees would then approach family member trustees of the Stone Estate at Great Hill to seek their permission to potentially place a wind turbine there.

“This committee was formed relative to information we received on a test tower (in the Great Hill area),” Blanchette said emphasizing that it was not a public hearing.

Still several residents, including Piney Point resident Kitt Sawitsky, asked permission to speak on the issue. Sawitsky, an attorney who has lived in town since last November, asked if anyone from the town had spoken to the Stone Estate Trustees about placement of a wind turbine on the property.

“No,” Blanchette answered. “All we did was agree to discuss the possibility of whether a wind turbine would be feasible at Great Hill.”

“We would like the opportunity to speak on it before it becomes a possibility at Great Hill,” Sawitsky said.

When Blanchette objected, repeating that this was not a public hearing, Sawitsky pressed the issue.

“How will you determine that without listening to us,” Sawitsky countered.

After selectmen agreed to let the residents speak, three people spoke about the effects a wind turbine could potentially have on them relative to property value, aesthetics, environment and health.

“I’m huge fan of wind power,” Lois Graboys of 95 Holly Road, said. “I’m an artist and it is kinetic sculpture, but they don’t belong in residential areas.”

Graboys said it would have a negative effect on property values, the effect on the environmentally sensitive area and she worried about “subsonic sound” from the constant swooshing of the turbine blades.

“Sounds carries across water,” she said.

She noted that an adjacent marsh is protected by all sorts of environmental laws, but not the area above it.

“I just feel something is very, very wrong when our marsh is protected but not the space above it,” Graboys said.

She also said she was concerned about the composition of the proposed committee, which selectmen named as Bill Saltonstall of the town’s Alternative Energy Committee, Alan Menard of the town Finance Committee, and Selectmen Chairman Blanchette, none of who would be directly affected by the proposed turbine location.

Next Piney Point resident and real estate broker Barbara Beatty spoke about potential health concerns that could be caused by the turbine, including headaches, seizures, sleep deprivation anxiety and depression. She also said a turbine would affect property values within two miles of it placement.

Engineer Steve Kokkins of 2 Pinewood Drive, spoke of an “enormous machine” up to 250 horsepower that would dominate the landscape of a now pristine area.

“These are larger than a Boeing 737 wing span,” Kokkins said.

After the three residents spoke, Sawitsky returned to the podium with a request.

“I suggest as an action item that the board table this, until more study can be done and allow for a complete review,” Sawitsky said.

Sawitsky also suggested that if selectmen move forward with the proposal they would run the risk of a social fracture in town, pitting those negatively affected by a turbine against those who would benefit.

But the selectman chairman seemed unwilling to change the composition of the ad hoc Great Hill Wind Turbine Committee.

“It’s incumbent on this town to investigate this,” Blanchette said. “They will not be represented. We’ve decided and that’s the way it will be.”

However, his two fellow selectmen, Jonathan Henry and Steve Cushing, disagreed

“Intellectually it have no problem to see it more inclusive,” Henry said.

Cushing agreed.

The board then appointed Sawitsky, Saltonstall and Blanchette to the ad hoc committee. No dates were set at that time for the new committee to meet.

Source:  By Chris Reagle, Wicked Local Marion, www.wickedlocal.com 26 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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