WAREHAM – Critics of a wind energy project proposed for the town warned at a hearing Wednesday night that the nearly 500-foot turbines would be a nuisance to neighbors and a drag on residential property values.
Glen Berkowitz, president of Beaufort Windpower LLC, which is proposing six wind turbines on five different cranberry bogs in the town, told the Zoning Board of Appeals that his company is committed to avoiding negative impacts on residents.
Michael S. McCann of McCann Appraisal LLC of Chicago, who gave a presentation on behalf of the opposition, said his research showed the values of homes within 2 miles of wind turbines declined on average by 25 percent.
“Industrial-style wind turbines change the essential character of the area,” McCann told a packed room, which included residents of Bourne and Falmouth who are also dealing with wind turbine projects.
He estimated $70 million to $112 million in market value could be lost in the town, based on the number of homes that could be affected and the range of potential price declines.
“Nuisance issues are what drives people to sell at a discount,” he said.
The current proposal, called Bog Wind Power Cooperative Project, includes one turbine located off Blackmore Pond Road in West Wareham, four off of Charge Pond Road on three different bogs, and the sixth one in East Wareham off Cranberry Highway.
Barry C. Cosgrove, a member of Wareham Residents Opposed to Bog Wind, said the shadow flicker of the turbines would create “a highly offensive strobe effect” on nearby properties.
An independent consultant who conducted a peer review for the town, Peter H. Guldberg, said the maximum increase in noise from the turbines would be two to nine decibels above ambient noise at the closest properties. He suggested in some areas the proponents could have done a better job with their own research.
Rebutting the criticism on property values, Berkowitz said the research cited by critics is based on much larger wind farms with dozens of turbines.
Before the meeting, he told The Standard-Times the turbines he is proposing would be on average 2,300 feet from the closest home, a larger setback than found in other communities.
If necessary, turbines would turn off at times when the sun is close to the horizon, to ensure residents experience no more than 15 hours of shadow flicker a year, he said.
“We want to build a wind project that serves as a model of how to do it the right way,” Berkowitz said.
The project would help increase the amount of clean, local energy. It would generate $250,000 a year in property tax revenue for Wareham, and it would help financially support the cranberry farmers. The farmers also would be able to use the electricity while most of the power is sold onto the electrical grid, he said.
The project would not require the construction of new transmission lines or access roads, he said.
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