CHARLTON – The Board of Health told Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School officials last night it would waive its new wind turbine siting regulation so the school can erect a working educational model, as long as the school’s turbine meets scaled-down setback demands.
The new regulation, adopted in May, calls for a 2,500-foot distance between the base of wind turbines and any existing dwelling or building. It was designed to forestall controversial plans that place two 330-foot tall turbines 780 feet apart on Overlook Masonic Health Center property, and another about one mile away at Bay Path.
In seeking the first turbine permit since the regulation was adopted, Bay Path Superintendent-Director David P. Papagni asked the board for a waiver to build a 30-foot-tall turbine “for educational purposes only.” The working model is for the school’s new clean energy house; a satellite classroom being constructed to give students hands-on green energy technology training.
“Because the overall height is less than 125 feet, we would like to give you permission to do it,” Board of Health Chairman Matt Gagner said. “We’d like to take the actual size of the rotors and do ‘the 10 times rule.’ ”
In other words, if the turbine has a 7-foot blade span, the tower base must be 70 feet from any existing habitable structure.
“Besides that I don’t see a problem at all,” Mr. Gagner said.
Mr. Papagni said the proposed turbine’s height would be comparable to that of a flagpole. He estimated the blade span at 6 to 8 feet and the distance from the main school building at 70 feet.
Without to-scale drawings at the meeting, Mr. Papagni agreed to measure the distance between the proposed site and the school. If it is demonstrated to be at least 10 times the blade width, the school will receive a special permit, Mr. Gagner said.
The health board unanimously adopted the turbine siting regulation setting the 2,500-foot setback in response to protests by some residents and local officials to the 330-foot turbine proposals.
The Overlook’s twin turbines would be about 1,000 feet from homes and 2,000 feet from the town recreation fields, public library, Charlton Elementary School and the historic town center.
The matter was considered in a health board public hearing, where residents presented research and concerns regarding the potential health and quality-of-life effects of turbine-generated sound and light flickers.
Overlook officials have not said yet whether they will fight the health board’s new rules.
Bay Path is moving forward with its plans for a 330-foot-tall turbine, Mr. Papagni said recently.
The 30-foot, energy house turbine is a separate project. The 900 kilowatt, 330-foot turbines planned to supply electricity to Bay Path and the Overlook facility were not discussed last night.
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