Foxboro officials and Route 1 neighbors want to know which way the wind is blowing over at Gillette Stadium – not just for the Kraft Group’s controversial casino project, but also for a proposed wind turbine at the home of the Patriots [team stats].
The Pats ownership group and Princeton, N.J.-based NRG yesterday announced a “green” energy expansion for the stadium and Patriot Place retail center that calls for tripling the existing solar panel installation and pursuing a “full-sized” wind turbine.
But the height and exact location on the sprawling football and shopping complex are still up in the air.
Dan Krantz, the Kraft Group’s director of site development, said the turbine would be about “220 feet to the rotor, which is roughly the same height as the existing eBay water tower on the stadium side of Route 1” where it might be built.
However, the turbine likely will cut a taller figure, because the blades can spin in a radius of more than 100 feet, depending on the design. The Kraft Group has already pushed for a zoning change in Foxboro to allow turbines – currently prohibited – as tall as 500 feet.
“That would be the largest wind turbine in the state,” said Richard Mazzocca, a planning board member in nearby Walpole who’s tracking the Kraft Group’s growth plans. “There are light flicker issues, there are noise issues with them, there are also issues about ice and snow flinging off blades traveling hundreds of yards, depending on the size of the blade.”
Krantz said there was “less concern” from South Walpole residents after they learned the turbine would be “surrounded by commercial property and parking lots for a half-mile in all directions.”
Foxboro Town Planner Sharon Wason said one draft called for the turbine to be “425 feet with the ability to appeal to a local board in the event that a little more height was necessary for power generation purposes.” She said the town and Kraft Group are trying to find “common ground” through public hearings that resume in February.
“If they continue to refine their design and the location, we’re continuing to talk,” Wason said.
Bill Grieder, vice-chairman of the Foxboro Planning Board, said board members are continuing to research concerns with wind turbines in other communities.
“As a board we’ve been doing research on projects down on the Cape, up in Maine, and just working to see the yin and yang of what it’s done or hasn’t done to those communities,” Grieder said. “All of those things are going into our discussions right now.”
Foxboro resident Collin Earnst said the location of the turbine would make all the difference to town and neighboring residents.
“It’s all a big if,” said Earnst, 37. “If it were in that spot and didn’t have any impact on pollution or site lines, then … in my opinion that’s a reasonable way for (Kraft) to improve the efficiency of his operations at Foxboro.”
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