CHARLTON – Sights, sounds and the quality of life were among the concerns raised by a crowd of residents during a public hearing on the Overlook Masonic Health Center’s plans to install two 330-foot wind turbines on its 450-acre campus.
At the meeting’s opening, Planning Board Chairman John P. McGrath told about 35 residents that the public hearing would consider only the items under the purview of the board.
“The engineering of the roadway and the infrastructure going in and the site design around the turbine. The two other things we can look at are the noise and flicker,” he said.
Sustainable Energy Developments was hired by Masonic for the turbine study and installation of the turbines, which have a 190-foot wing span. The property runs behind the library on Main Street.
The project is under review by Planning Board consultant Vanasse Hangen Brustlin.
In response to many questions regarding lightning strikes, fire and ice throw, Dave Strong, of Sustainable Energy, said the turbines are designed to be fail-safe. If pre-determined conditions are not optimal, the turbine will shut down.
Regarding noise, Mr. Strong said acoustic studies found that when the turbine is operating at its maximum speed of 26 mph, decibel levels are below the state Department of Environmental Protection’s noise impact criteria.
Twenty-nine properties fell within the zone measurements reported, including residences on Burlingame Road, Flint Road and Masonic Home Road. Also in the sound zone are Charlton Elementary School and the ball fields behind the library.
The highest level of sound from the two turbines would be comparable to that of a dishwasher running in the next room, Mr. Strong said.
“They are fall below the threshold that’s allowed,” Mr. McGrath said.
Burlingame Road resident Kathleen Gillespie said one tower will be 1,000 feet from her house. The Charlton Elementary School teacher said she is concerned for her family and the students.
Infrasound is a sound wave below the human audible range that is detrimental to the children and the elderly, she said.
Another objection came with the depictions of the towers looming over the athletic fields behind the library.
“This is the center of town where you’re putting it. In it you have a school and the only athletic fields this town has, the only place in town where kids and adults have a quality of life thing,” resident John Perkins said.
The hearing was continued to April 20.
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