Opponents to the Bog Wind proposal Wednesday told residents who live within two miles of the proposed turbines to brace for a 25 percent decrease in their home’s property value.
Concerned residents piled into the Town Hall cafeteria for a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting to hear presentations about the project, which would bring six nearly 500 foot tall wind turbines to five cranberry bogs in Wareham.
During the last public hearing in November, Wareham Residents Opposed to Bog Wind told the ZBA the project would enrich large wind developers while most local citizens would suffer considerable reductions to their property values.
Seasonal Blackmore Pond resident Barry Cosgrove, who organized the group of residents opposed to the project, asked Michael McCann of Chicago-based McCann Appraisal LLC to address that issue during Wednesday’s meeting.
In addition to finding value of homes within two miles of turbines decreased by 25 percent, McCann estimated $70 million to $112 million in market value could be lost in town due to “nuisance issues” such as noise, aesthetics, and “shadow flicker”, which studies show deter potential home buyers.
Shadow flicker is a result of the sun casting intermittent shadows from the rotating blades of a wind turbine onto a building, creating a strobe effect. Cosgrove called the flicker “highly offensive,” suggesting that like home values, quality of life would also be impacted for people living near the turbines.
A presentation from David and Stephanie Hulthen added a human element to Cosgrove’s claims. The couple was invited to testify at the hearing by Wareham Residents Opposed to Bog Wind.
The Hulthens built their home in rural Dekalb County, Illinois nine years ago. They said their neighborhood changed from a quiet country setting to an industrial one because of the addition of wind turbines to the area.
“I can’t even go out on my porch and enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning [because of shadow flicker],” David said.
The couple echoed the concerns of the opposition. They said their property value decreased, showed home video of shadow flicker, and told the crowd their family suffers sleepless nights due to the noise the turbines create.
Third-party assessor Tech Environmental of Waltham provided its evaluation of Bog Wind to the ZBA during the meeting.
While noting areas of the Bog Wind project could have been better researched, Tech Environmental President Peter Guldberg said the project meets the requirements for wind turbines under the town’s bylaw.
Developer Glen Berkowitz of Beaufort Windpower LLC in Boston pointed out that McCann’s study referenced homes located next to large-scale wind farms with an average 80 to 90 turbines each, as did the Hulthens’ presentation.
“It’s completely different [than the Bog Wind proposal],” he stated. “It’s like comparing a Super Walmart to an Adrian’s Package Store.”
Berkowitz told the Zoning Board the turbines would be turned off during certain parts of the day to reduce shadow flicker to 15 hours a year.
He added the benefits of the of the project are often overlooked. During the next 20 years the project will bring in $5 million in property tax revenue for the town and an additional $100,000 to cover the cost of a building permit, Berkowitz said.
The turbines will be built on private cranberry bogs and are projected to generate 33 million kilowatt hours per year of energy for the state of Massachusetts, according to Berkowitz.
The proposed Bog Wind turbines are more than double the size of the one at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. The “swept area,” the circle formed by the blades of the turbine, would be slightly larger than a Boeing 747 airplane, that is four-and-a-half times larger than the turbine at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
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