PLYMOUTH – According to attorney Ed Angley, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation told Colony Place Development LLC that its plan to erect a wind turbine in Colony Place didn’t pose any problems for the state.
The missive arrived via e-mail. But DOT engineer Wallace McCarroll arrived by car Wednesday night to tell the Zoning Board of Appeals that Saxon’s proposal doesn’t meet the state’s criteria for property line setbacks and that the DOT is concerned about shadow flicker effect and the fall zone of the structure, which is proposed near Route 44.
McCarroll’s announcement came as a surprise in the wake of the positive e-mail, and the Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously, later, to continue the hearing to 7:45 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 2, to await the state’s final say on the matter in the form of a letter.
The applicant for the project, Colony Place Development LLC, is requesting a waiver of the ZBA’s setback requirements and also a special permit to erect the turbine. Colony Place Development also owns the 33-acre parcel where the 302-foot wind turbine is planned, which is in the vicinity of 120 Colony Place, where Sleepy’s, the Mattress Professionals is located.
Atlantic Design engineer Richard Tabaczynski presented data he said confirms that the project does not exceed noise level guidelines. The turbine would be sited 3,000 feet from the nearest Plymouth home and 2,700 feet from the closest Kingston home.
But the sound test was conducted in the summer, when noise levels are at their lowest due to foliage absorbing much of the sound, ZBA member Michael Main noted.
“If you did this in the summertime, how do you know what it’s going to be in the winter?” Main asked.
Tabaczynski said the sound study was extremely conservative in its estimates, but more sound studies could be conducted to satisfy any lingering concerns the board may have.
Two Megansett Drive residents said they’re against the turbine because they’ll be forced to hear it every day and night.
Sound issues aside, the project doesn’t meet the town’s setback requirements and the state is concerned about the turbine falling on traffic, ZBA member Ed Conroy said.
“This sounds like a public-safety nightmare,” he added.
Don Smith, of Colony Place Development, noted that there are wind turbines near schools and highways and next to buildings. The turbine isn’t a big money maker for his company; he decided to pursue the project to promote green energy and do the right thing by the town. If the town doesn’t want the project, Smith said he’d withdraw it.
Furthermore, if the DOT rules against the wind turbine in this location, the project is dead, Angley said.
Former Energy Committee Chairman and Aeronautica Wind Power co-founder Brian Kuhn said concerns that the wind turbine could fall should be allayed by the fact that his company’s turbines are designed to withstand 156-mile-per-hour winds and shut down automatically in a windstorm. Drivers on Route 44 would experience the same shadow flicker effect from the turbine they experience from passing trees and telephone poles, he added.
A letter green-lighting the project will be issued as long as the DOT’s requirements are met, McCarroll said. In the meantime, his agency and the applicant will work to resolve these concerns.
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