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Mann turbine hearing continued; Neighbors say project would destroy their peaceful neighborhood and quality of life  

Credit:  By Emily Clark, Wicked Local Plymouth, www.wickedlocal.com 9 April 2011 ~~

PLYMOUTH – Al Laurino, 90, couldn’t hear at the Zoning Board of Appeal’s Wednesday night hearing. But the board could hear him.

“Does anyone in this room talk to the residents that live near these monstrosities?” he shouted. “People are not going to buy property with them big fans up there!”

Minutes later, his 89-year-old wife, Mary Laurino addressed ZBA Chairman Peter Conner.

“You’re the meanest man!” Laurino declared. “You’re good-looking, but you’re mean!”

“My wife would probably agree,” Conner responded wryly, as laughter broke out.

The subject? A plan to site a 492-foot-tall wind turbine north of Route 25 off Head of the Bay Road. The argument? Those backing the proposal cited studies and the malfunctioning Falmouth turbine as obvious proof the proposal should be stopped. Those in favor cited other studies and other examples of turbines in Hull and at Massachusetts Maritime Academy as proof turbines don’t cause property values to drop or result in health problems.

The tone was contentious at times as Bournehurst Drive neighbors expressed vehement opposition.

Meanwhile, those in favor of the plan maintained that fear of the unknown fueled this debate, and that, once the turbine is erected, those fears will evaporate just as they have for abutters of other turbines.

Earlier, the packed audience of abutters and proponents sat through lengthy and detailed commentary from Mann’s team of experts, who rebutted the testimony of experts siding with those in opposition. Sound engineers maintain that the turbine would be fitted with state-of-the-art technology that prevents excessive noise, and question the credibility of a doctor who holds the position that turbines can cause sleep disturbances and other health problems. And, while a real-estate professional questioned the validity of studies that indicate wind turbines negatively impact property values, ZBA member Michael “Buster” Main questioned the validity of a study that indicated there was no negative impact. Main noted that the study was performed as a master’s degree requirement and was not objectively reviewed by professionals in the field.

For Main, the back-and-forth dueling studies and experts highlighted the fact that no one knows for certain how this proposed wind turbine could impact Plymouth.

“What happens in Wyoming or wherever in a cornfield is not the same as what happens in Massachusetts and doesn’t mean anything to me,” he said.

The ZBA has already green-lighted plans to cite three wind turbines on cranberry grower Keith Mann’s 331-acre property off Head of the Bay Road. That decision has been appealed, stalling the plan. Mann’s company, Future Generation Wind LLC, is the applicant for the project, which would erect a 492-foot wind turbine within 1,500 feet of the closest Bournehurst Drive resident. Those opposed to the plan note that the structure would be taller than the Great Pyramid at Giza.

But Kingston resident and prospective wind turbine developer Mary O’Donnell said Americans have to go green if they want to end war in the Middle East and reduce the astronimical price of fuel.

“After it’s up and running, you are going to be really proud of yourself that you were a part of this great new adventure that we’re all undertaking,” she said. “Any kind of change is scary.”

It’s easy to be in favor of going green until a wind turbine has taken a bite out of your property’s value, Bornehurst Drive resident Ed Curran said.

“Is it OK to ruin my life?” he said. “This is going to increase the rates of electricity we all pay.”

Another opponent noted that zoning bylaws specify that structures shouldn’t adversely affect the character of a neighborhood and said the turbine absolutely would.

Proponents of the plan cited the Hull wind turbine, which has greatly decreased that town’s reliance on public energy and has become a huge success and tourist draw. They also cited the wind turbine at Mass. Maritine, which has had no negative impact on abutters or the students there.

Attorney Bob Betters, who represents Future Generation, delivered his final statements and read from the board’s previous decision to grant Future Generation special permits to construct three turbines. Betters implied that the same reasoning should apply to this project. It was 10:40 p.m. when Conners asked if board members felt comfortable deliberating and voting that evening, or whether the hearing should be continued again. He noted that they would be forced to vacate the building at 11 p.m. when custodians locked it. ZBA member David Peck said he wanted more information on the mitigation measures Future Generation is proposing to lessen negative impacts to the surrounding neighborhood, and said more time was needed.

The ZBA voted unanimously to continue the hearing to 8:15 p.m., May 4.

“It’s a good thing Benjamin Franklin isn’t alive today,” O’Donnell said. “If he had to go through this to make electricty, we probably wouldn’t have lights on.”

Source:  By Emily Clark, Wicked Local Plymouth, www.wickedlocal.com 9 April 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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