March 9, 2011
New Jersey

Holmdel votes to oppose turbine

HOLMDEL – The township has joined the Monmouth County Freeholders and the municipalities of Union Beach, Hazlet and Keyport in opposition to a 380-foot-tall wind turbine planned for the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority’s (BRSA) 24-acre wastewater management plant site.

The resolution passed unanimously by the Township Committee on March 3 after listening to concerns from neighboring residents and local officials from Union Beach. Deputy Mayor Serena DiMaso was not present for the vote.

On behalf on the township’s Community Development Subcommittee, Township Committee members Larry Fink and Eric Hinds said they looked into the matter further and visited the BRSA site to evaluate proximity to homes, location and siting.

“I feel for the residents here in that this process of siting a tower went very quickly, especially from their point of view, because it is right in their backyards,” Fink said. “Even though the sewerage authority did a study that claims there wouldn’t be an impact on property values, common sense tells me that there will be a negative impact on property values.

“There are so many examples that have been done in the name of using technology to improve life for people, whether it is nuclear plants, coal-fired plants, hydro-electric dams, you name it, any source of energy you can imagine, there’s always some negative impact on the people who live the closest. I just don’t want to see history repeating itself where everybody is jumping on the bandwagon to bring in this ‘green’ technology, and the people who are most apt to be negatively impacted kind of get glossed over.”

The 262-foot-tall concrete pile cap foundation for the turbine – located within 1,080 feet of a residential neighborhood – is located in the northern corner of the plant’s property, adjacent to the Raritan Bay.

The facility is surrounded by wetlands and is adjacent to property owned by Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L).

Hinds, who supported the resolution, said the turbine should have been set back farther from homes before final DEP approval was granted.

“It seemed like the major concerns from the residents were the noise,” Hinds said. “The thing that popped into my mind was the potential loss in home value. They have done a fairly extensive report preparing two other sites, and that they didn’t really have an effect on the value of the home. That was research we were being shown by the BRSA.

“My one comment was that if you go out toward the water, it was probably 1,000 yards, maybe 1,500 yards, but that property is all wetlands and the DEP would not allow them to go further. I thought that wasn’t investigated hard enough.

“An exception should have been made that the wind turbine should have been put out another 1,000 yards. There is literally nothing there. I think that would probably have made the residents happier.”

Although Fink spoke in favor of seeking energy savings for the eight municipalities under the BRSA, he expressed concern for residents in close proximity to the structure.

“Although I think the [BRSA] is doing a good thing in one sense, I think the lack of regulation and the lack of opportunity for people to be heard and help with the siting of this, it was more of a done deal,” he said.
Committeeman Rocco Pascucci agreed and said: “Just because something is environmentally friendly technology doesn’t mean it is environmentally friendly to the area.”

After the resolution was passed, Union Beach residents and members of the Hazlet Area Quality of Life Alliance (HAQLA), an environmental group that is leading opposition to the turbine, in attendance applauded in favor of the committee action.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Union Beach resident Marco Oldhafer thanked the Township Committee for taking action on the matter.

“You guys didn’t need to do this, since you are a little further away … I know a lot of people will appreciate it,” Oldhafer said. “[With] renewable energy, everybody is all on the same board, we all do need it. But when it hurts some people to go ahead and do that, I think we need to look at it in a different way.”

Oldhafer said residents are waiting for action on a proposed Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Sean T. Kean (D-11th District) and Sen. Andrew R. Ciesla (D-10th District) that prohibits siting of industrial wind turbines within 2,000 feet of any residence or residentially zoned property.

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