May 12, 2011

Zoning Board of Appeals OKs fourth Mann turbine off Head of the Bay

By Emily Clark, Wicked Local Plymouth, 12 May 2011

PLYMOUTH – In spite of vehement opposition from neighbors, the Zoning Board of Appeals gave a green light last week to a fourth turbine for Future Generation Wind LLC. The fourth turbine is proposed for north of Route 25 off Head of the Bay Road.

The ZBA OK’d the plan along with a list of conditions requiring the project strictly comply with specified sound limits and other regulations.

Not all the ZBA members were on board with the project, however. Ed Conroy said he’s concerned about potential health impacts of the turbine, and voted against granting the special permit.

Bournehurst Drive residents have been up in arms since cranberry grower Keith Mann announced his company’s plan to site a 492-foot-tall wind turbine north of Route 25 off Head of the Bay Road. These neighbors contend that the turbine will be an eyesore, taller than the Great Pyramid at Giza, will cause their property values to drop and will be an annoyance and possibly cause health problems.

The ZBA has already approved plans to cite three wind turbines on Mann’s 331-acre property. That decision has been appealed, and rumors indicate this approval of a fourth turbine will be appealed as well.

Prior to the decision, local attorney Bob Betters, representing Future Generation, addressed questions raised during the April hearing. He noted that two real estate studies Future Generation cited were based on assessors’ information and actual sales data. There is no comparison between the Future Generation wind turbine proposal and the currently malfunctioning Falmouth turbine, he added.

“The technology we’re proposing is different from Falmouth’s,” Betters said.

Future Generation has demonstrated its compliance with the bylaw and state sound level restrictions, ZBA member David Peck said.

Peck also asked how complaints would be handled, and ZBA member Michael “Buster” Main asked for more information on how the project is financed so it is profitable for the proponent. NStar’s utility hookup fees are prohibitive at best, he added.

Betters said complaints will be addressed to the building commission. It would then be Future Generation’s responsibility to provide a sound study in response, which the town would peer review for accuracy. If the company isn’t in compliance, modifications to fix the problem would be made, he added. Mann conceded that he will pay hefty fees to NStar, but said this cost is worked into the project’s budget. The four turbines will also generate $200,000 more tax dollars for the town of Plymouth.

“The project will be financially viable,” he added.

Conroy noted that it’s not clear how the turbine could impact epileptics or those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mann countered that an Epilepsy Foundation report concluded that shadow flicker effect, or the light-shadow strobe of the wind turbine’s blade, doesn’t cause seizures.

“The medical doctor spoke about minor annoyances,” Conroy said. “What one person finds annoying is different from another. I don’t think anyone knows what the medical effects are.”

The vote was 4-1 in favor of granting the special permit.

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