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Turbine plan returns to Hedges Pond; Appeal of Head of the Bay turbines generates confusing legal discussion

PLYMOUTH – Just one 302-foot wind turbine is now planned for 143 Hedges Pond Road. That’s a good 100 feet shorter than the two wind turbines that were proposed for the site last year.

The applicant for the project has also changed.

Jim Sweeney, president of Sustainable New Energy, withdrew the original proposal for two 480-foot wind turbines last year. Today, the applicant is Associated Wind Developers LLC of Plymouth, which was scheduled to appear before the Planning Board Monday night but requested a continuance. The project’s hearing was tentatively moved to Jan. 23.

Cranberry grower Jeanine Anderson is the trustee of Jeanine Anderson Realty Trust, which owns the Hedges Pond Road property on which the turbine would be built.

But changes to the plan have rendered it no more pleasing to some residents than the last proposal. They maintain that a wind turbine in their neighborhood will be an eyesore, destroy the quality of life, drastically reduce property values and create a nuisance and potential hazard.

Meanwhile, a pending appeal of the Future Generation Wind turbines planned off Head of the Bay Road hit a confusing turn Monday night, when the company’s attorney, Bob Betters, requested a modification of the project’s special permit. Attorney Lauren Fotos said she’s representing appellants Richard and Kathleen Turgeon, who feel the special permit that was granted doesn’t adequately address sound and noise issues or provide a process through which neighbors can complain and have their issues rectified. In addition, these neighbors are concerned about erosion issues and the fact that the location of the turbine has moved significantly since its approval.

In an effort to appease some of the Turgeons’ concerns, Betters said his client, Keith Mann of Future Generation Wind, is requesting a modification of that special permit, with changes to conditions number 4 and 11. Condition 4, Betters said, would, under this modification request, include new, clarifying language regarding the $75,000 in mitigation measures offered by Mann. The new language would make it clear that the Zoning Board of Appeals would oversee the disbursement of this mitigation money to neighbors who make a claim. Under the modification request, condition 11 would state that any proposed change in the turbine model that exceeds the specifications of the one proposed would be deemed a modification of a special permit and must, therefore, submit to the public hearing process.

But Fotos said these conditions don’t begin to address her client’s concerns, and it’s not even clear what modifying a special permit in the middle of the appeal process would accomplish. While the modification request pertains to two of the disputed conditions, it doesn’t address other conditions the Turgeons need addressed, like the sound, noise and siting of the turbine. She said the turbine position on the plans has moved 30 or 40 feet from the approved location. Her clients have also not been given proper notice regarding meetings like this one on the project, she added. Betters said his client is simply trying to be proactive toward his neighbors by clarifying some of the special permit language.

“I don’t think there’s any way $75,000 can mitigate these turbines,” Fotos said.

Director of Planning and Development Lee Hartmann said sound issues were not dealt with in the original decision and are beyond the scope of the board’s authority, in his opinion. Betters’ special permit modification request merely clarifies the permit, he added.

Planning Board Chairman Marc Garrett initially suggested the hearing be continued to give the parties a chance to reach an agreement, but when that seemed impossible as the discussion continued, he suggested taking no action on the request.

The board voted unanimously to take no action. Future Generation Wind will now need to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals with the request.