CHARLTON – The proposal to install two wind turbines near the center of town meets all requirements governed by the Planning Board and will most likely be granted site plan approval.
Many of the more than 20 residents crowded into the Planning Board meeting room Wednesday night were visibly angry when the Overlook proposal passed its final site plan hurdle and the board voted to close the public hearings.
“Our hands are tied on what we can look at on this,” John P. McGrath, board chairman, said. “We’ve got the data that we need to really make a decision. I know people don’t like to hear that but I’m telling you now that that’s where we are.”
The board’s authority is limited to upholding town and state regulations for turbine site design, sound levels and shadow flicker.
“A lot of people in town are very upset about it and for the record, I hope that Masonic Home sees that there are a lot of unhappy people,” resident and Heritage Country Club owner Bill Plante said.
Residents and local officials have been protesting plans that place two 330-foot tall turbines 780 feet apart on Overlook Masonic Health Center property behind the library and another about one mile away at Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School.
Sustainable Energy Developments of Ontario, N.Y., the company hired to install both projects, demonstrated in earlier meetings that all three turbines meet regulations for site design and sound impact.
Although sound impact is regulated by the state, flicker is not.
The assessment for shadows caused by sunlight on spinning blades was presented Wednesday. The industry, it was said, follows an international standard established in Germany.
“What the industry uses is 30 hours per year on flicker. They have hit all the thresholds they have to hit to get a permit,” Mr. McGrath said.
Residents have said they support green energy but oppose the turbines for being only 1,000 feet from homes and 2,000 feet from the town recreation fields, public library and Charlton Elementary School.
The arguments against situating two wind generators between the town’s youth athletic fields and the setting sun were discussed Wednesday night.
Dave Strong, of Sustainable Energy, said the two baseball fields behind the library will be affected by flicker for 34 days in the spring and 24 days in the fall for an average of 4 to 5.5 minutes per day.
“Most of the (baseball) fields are at zero, and the sections of the fields that have potential, it’s minuscule. It’s a couple of minutes, a couple of weeks a year and nothing in the summer,” Town Planner Alan I. Gordon said.
Regarding the closest home, at 24 Burlingame Road, Mr. Gordon said that eight months of the year it would be flicker-free. Four months during autumn, winter and early spring there would be nine to 12 minutes of flicker in the late afternoon, or less depending on clouds.
Mr. Strong also presented computer-generated images to depict the turbines on the landscape from several vantage point,s including the baseball fields.
“There is nothing we can do about what they are going to look like,” Mr. McGrath said.
Selectmen recently denounced the projects and asked both parties to table their plans.
David C. Turner, Overlook president and CEO, recently said the proposed twin towers are in an exploratory stage and “not by any stretch of the imagination a done deal”
For Bay Path, Superintendent-Director David P. Papagni recently said the school plans to “stay the course” in erecting a turbine on its campus.
The Planning Board will deliberate its decision on the Overlook plan and review the potential shadow flicker for the Bay Path plan at its meeting set for May 4.
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