BREWSTER – The sprint to wind power has become a marathon.
After five hours of comment from 56 people, not including those who yielded time to others, innumerable letters charts, tables and graphs, the planning board decided Wednesday to continue the discussion on the two proposed wind turbines to next week, and perhaps 90 days more.
That brought a groan from people who had waited through 40 minutes of reading letters into the record as the clock ticked toward midnight but the board was “inundated” with new data and testimony and will take time to wade through conflicting audio experts, real estate appraisers and health studies.
Our unofficial tally was 19 Brewster speakers in favor and 21 against, including four selectmen and two town administrators who were all in favor. Several opponents yielded time to other speakers and aren’t factored in – out of town speakers were nine in favor and eight against. They included a lawyer, an audio expert for project opponents, the president of Clean Power Now and the operator of the Hull wind turbines (in favor).
The two 410-foot turbines would be on leased land and owned by Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative. Brewster expects to save $3.6 million over 15 years by using the electricity generated and leasing the land for $50,000 per turbine. There are seven homes within half a mile of the Freeman’s Way site, compared to 65 in Falmouth (where there are 13 complaints) and more than 200 in Portsmouth, R.I., and Hull (one complaint). The Falmouth turbine uses older noisier technology, according the CVEC.
“This is a more favorable site than most Cape Cod locations I’m aware of,” said John Cuningham, Brewster’s CVEC representative.
But many disagreed.
“There is no upside, there is nothing but downside,” declared Greg Bone, operator of WFCC, the classical station that broadcasts from an abutting radio tower. “Any negative noise whatsoever and we will lose the classical format. Millions of dollars from the business point of view are at stake.”
“What is the acceptable number of Brewster citizens whose lives and quality of lives will be affected?” asked David Young. “The mere mention of a turbine site affects property values.”
Fran Porter noted that 329 Brewster residents have signed a petition against the turbines.
“We’re not hysterical. We’re angry,” she declared.
“Your decision tonight will affect lives, wildlife and the rural nature of Brewster for at least a quarter century,” declared one resident.
Certainly there was a lot of alarm, much of it recently fomented.
“There’s a huge amount of fear going on here. Fear about things that don’t exist,” said Selectman Ed Lewis.
“Fear can be debilitating,” reflected Town Administrator Charles Sumner.
“The Brewster site is far superior (to other sites). Why? Its distance. This community didn’t sacrifice a citizen. We picked this site because we didn’t sacrifice anybody.”
Others felt sacrificed on the altar of green energy.
“I’m sure I’ll hear the blades and see the flicker and I don’t think I can stand it,” said Barbara Ryder.
“My husband and I chose Brewster as the first place to buy because of its family friendly reputation. Please do not grant this permit,” pleaded Kara Diff. “Think for a moment if it was your fourth grader who has trouble sleeping or is bothered by constant headaches.”
“That home is my future. It’s available for me to sell or it’s available for me to live in,” echoed Joanne Smith.
“These turbines will turn East Brewster into an economic dead zone,” another citizen ventured.
People presented the board with charts and booklets full of data dealing with aerodynamic amplitude modulation over one-second intervals (changes in this increase sensitivity). Falmouth’s Neil Anderson said he suffered from headaches, ringing in his ears and a “physiological psychological nightmare.”
“Their town is torturing them,” Dave Moriarity proclaimed.
Brewster isn’t trying to torture anyone
“The issue is clean renewable energy,” said Joanne Hughes. “My real (concern) is carbon burning plants that drop mercury in all our ponds and fish. It’s time for Brewster to bite the bullet and do it.”
“The noise from wind turbines does not pose a risk, I can say that categorically,” said Dr. Robert McCunney of M.I.T. “Sub audible, low frequency noise and infrasound do not pose any health effects.”
“I would hope you wouldn’t make this decision tonight,” said Charles McLaughlin, president of CVEC, late in the evening. “I think the entire process would benefit if we could report back in a procedural way and be guided by you.”
The board agreed and will proceed next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at its usual location in town hall.
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