BUZZARDS BAY – Grazing Fields Farm owners Kathryn and Michael Fletcher of Head of the Bay on Monday night took direct aim at New Generation Wind plans to construct a turbine west of Route 25 that could harm their horses in a pasture, their home, their business and property value as well as their equestrian-training reputation.
The comments came during the final Cape Cod Commission public hearing into the controversial wind-farm proposal that has been reduced from seven turbines to four.
Kathy Fletcher said she and her husband had expressed opposition to New Generation but received no reply from the project principals, including Tudor Ingersoll, a member of the family that sold them the storied and historic Grazing Fields Farm in 1995; when all concerned were intent on keeping the area agricultural and rural.
The proposed Number 7 turbine would be situated 600 feet from where horses stay in a field. Kathy Fletcher said the Nstar utility wanted 750 feet distance from a New Generation structure and was accommodated with a turbine being removed from the controversial proposal. The farm owners were not, she said.
Fletcher said the wind farm as planned would essentially devalue her property. And if one horse owner doesn’t like a nearby turbine, others would follow, she said.
Testimony indicated that private talks between the Fletchers and Ingersoll family over business and mortgage issues – apparently surrounding New Generation plans – had devolved from private to public. New Generation’s Boston attorney Diane Tillotson said the Fletchers had made demands her clients could not financially afford.
Opponents who disliked the wind farm plan at seven turbines now view it even less favorably at four structures, saying it will destroy scenic vistas, present a threat to the Bournedale school, include hazardous material and health issues that cannot be resolved and reduce property values at nearby homes.
Homebuilder Mark Hebb urged commission members to “look long and hard at the human element of this project. I ask you to err on the side of caution because it’s only a matter of time before these turbines come to a theater near you,” he said.
James Potter, head of Citizens for Responsible Energy, said Special Town Meeting voters in May had essentially voted against New Generation when they amended the bylaw governing turbine review at the local level.
Potter said the commission should be aware that the so-called “stewards of the land,” meaning the Ingersoll family, had “partnered with an outfit that rapes the land;” referring to Cape Cod Aggregates and its sand-and-gravel pit off Scenic Highway.
Commission staffers, meanwhile, say New Generation must still document how its wind farm would increase or safeguard energy availability on the Cape. Scenic vista interruption remains an issue as well. So does the supply and disposition of hazardous materials involved in turbine operations.
Tillotson referred to project opponents and their claim that they generally support green-energy initiatives but not near their homes. “We have to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. That’s what this project is about. We have to make a beginning,” she said. “Somewhere and somehow.”
Joyce Lorman of Pocasset said New Generation was roundly criticized for its seven turbines. “The project then was cut in half, and now they’re criticized for making a change to work with people and meet them halfway,” she said.
Lorman said she grew up on a farm at a time when it was thought that electric-transmission lines overhead might harm the animals. That didn’t happen, she said; adding it would not happen with a turbine hundreds of feet away in Head of the Bay.
The commission sub-committee must in the end determine if the proposal’s potential benefits outweigh its possible detriments before rejecting it or advancing it to the full voting membership.
Town Planner Coreen Moore repeated her assertion that the New Generation plan is consistent with Bourne’s Local Comprehensive Plan, which recognizes that alternative energy ventures are essential, local zoning in place and the Bournedale District of Critical Planning Concern’s governing regulations.
Moore’s sentiment has earned her some enmity in wind-farm opposition circles as well as concentrated efforts advanced to selectmen to keep her from commenting about the proposal with local media.
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