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Wind foes unite

LENOX – Opponents of a potential municipal wind-turbine installation atop Lenox Mountain are stepping up their efforts with an informational discussion this week.

The speaker will be Eleanor Tillinghast, president of Green Berkshires, an environmental organization. The event – at the Community Center on Walker Street at 7 p.m. Thursday – is sponsored by the citizens’ group that’s against the proposal, PreserveLenox Mountain.org.

According to an announcement from Green Berkshires, answers will be supplied to the following questions: “Industrial Turbines on Lenox Mountain? Hundreds of Turbines in the Berkshires? Will I see or hear them? Will they make me sick? Why should I worry about WESRA (Wind-Energy Siting Reform Act)?”

A possible site for one or two turbines 262 feet above the ridge line – presented to the town following a study by the energy research company Weston Solutions of Concord, N.H.– is on town-owned land that feeds the Lenox reservoirs, 350 feet from the boundary of the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, according to the opponents.

The group also contends that a project would require “extensive clear-cutting of the woods at the site along with blasting to anchor the turbine’s foundation.”

“A certified property appraiser reports 25 to 40 percent losses in the value of properties in close proximity to turbines,” the announcement stated.

The
organization also claims safety issues – “turbines can explode and fling scrap metal for more than a mile; they catch fire, occasionally leak oil, shed large chunks of ice and sometimes even fall over.”

The group claims the potential single or dual turbines would tower 425 feet over the ridge line – rather than the 262-foot elevation presented by the town-commissioned study – and would require red flashing aviation warning lights at night. “’Shadow flicker’ would be present at certain times of day,” the opponents contend.

Talking points to be discussed include the “killing of birds and bats by turbines” and the “fragmentation of wildlife habitats” that would result from clear-cutting.

The town has formed a Wind Energy Research Panel composed of three supporters and three opponents of the possible installation with a non-voting moderator, Selectman Kenneth Fowler. The group plans to hold weekly meetings toward a goal of presenting a report to the Lenox Selectmen by Jan. 15.

According to the Weston Solutions Inc. study, the nearest residence to the proposed installation is a half-mile away, and the turbine would be fully visible only at five spots from a half-mile to four miles from the site.

The study acknowledged “significant upgrades to existing roads” would be needed, but identified no threats to flora or fauna at the site, nor any major effects on birds or bats, although “further research is needed.”

If the project were ever pursued by the town and approved by voters, compliance with the Scenic Mountain Act.