PLYMOUTH – A plan to site a wind turbine north of Route 25, off Head of the Bay Road, has some Bournehurst Drive residents up in arms, fearful their peaceful neighborhood will be permanently scarred by it.
But other residents are in favor of the project. They say they welcome the wind turbine as green energy, and stress that the vast majority of neighborhoods with turbines have no complaints about them.
The Zoning Board of Appeals was relegated to half of the Mayflower Room at Town Hall Wednesday night, due to an Advisory and Finance Committee meeting held at the same time. The double booking prompted the need to split the room. So, all the seats were filled with some audience members obliged to stand outside in the hall.
Cranberry grower Keith Mann of Future Generation Wind LLC owns 331 acres off Head of the Bay Road and has already obtained permits from the ZBA to construct three wind turbines to the south of Route 25. Mann said he expects it will take two years for the two pending appeals of this project to move through the courts.
In the meantime, Mann is moving forward with his plan to site a fourth turbine, a 492-foot-tall turbine, on his land to the north of Route 25, a site which would be within 1,500 feet of the closest home on Bournehurst Drive. Edward Curran, who lives in the development, said he and many of his neighbors are dead set against this proposal.
“I’m about 1,500 feet away,” Curran said. “I’m one of the families that will be most impacted.” He and other residents in the development are concerned the shadow flicker effect, noise and unsightliness of the structure will cause their property values to drop and wreak havoc on their quality of life.
“Now (Mann) is trying to divide the neighborhood by offering neighbors deals,” Curran said. “This neighborhood is going to be ruined.”
Mann said he has, indeed, offered neighbors who would be most impacted by the turbine remuneration for any perceived annoyance, adding that studies show that once a turbine is erected concerns about them tend to evaporate. According to Mann, he’s offered residents living within 2,300 of the proposed turbine up to $2,000 annually for 20 years.
“Neighbors closest to the project were enthusiastic with the payments,” he said. “People beyond the range of the program were not happy.”
He’s only going to move forward with the program if a majority of Bournehurst Drive residents want it, he added, and he’s also offered these residents an opportunity to buy shares in the project with a guaranteed 9 percent rate of return.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Mann’s engineer played recordings of the sound the turbine would make and set it at the decibel level neighbors would hear. He also presented his sound study findings. But experts representing opponents to the proposal presented their own findings, which called into question the accuracy of the engineer’s sound study.
Annette Herbst, a Bournehurst Drive resident, said wind turbines are extremely common in her native Germany and are not at all the hazard and annoyance people anticipate they will be. It’s fear of the unknown that fuels these erroneous concerns, she said.
According to the National Association of Realtors, turbines impact property values only when they are being proposed. This slight decline is corrected once the turbine is constructed and fears about it are allayed. Mann said other studies confirm this fact as well.
But Curran and others say this is simply not the case, and cite other studies that suggest that turbines do, indeed, negatively impact property values, health and overall wellbeing.
The ZBA continued the hearing until 8 p.m., Wednesday, April 6.
A supermajority of four out of five ZBA members must OK the proposal for it to move forward.