PLYMOUTH – It was the year of the tall order for the Zoning Board of Appeals, which sat through so many arguments for and against cell towers and wind turbines that some audience members dozed off during the debates.
The Planning Board experienced a similar phenomenon as it issued recommendations to the ZBA regarding these proposals.
The year kicked off with Center Hill Road neighbors up in arms over a plan to erect a 180-foot cell tower on a 5-acre lot abutting the Center Hill Preserve. They formed the group Stop the Tower and created a website StopCenterHillTower.org. The company planning the project, Industrial Tower Wireless, strapped itself in for a bumpy ride as one opponent after another presented data to the ZBA contesting the need for the tower. ITW withdrew the proposal temporarily, but resubmitted it in May with a few changes. This time the plan called for a 150-foot monopole cell tower. But, in June, the Planning Board voted against recommending the special permit. And lack of dedicated carriers and other concerns didn’t sit well with the ZBA and it denied the project unanimously in October.
Wind turbine proposals received a similar reception in 2011. In February, Bournehurst Drive residents vehemently objected to Future Generation Wind LLC’s plans for a fourth turbine north of Route 25 off Head of the Bay Road. Cranberry grower Keith Mann said his company’s plan for a 492-foot-tall wind turbine would be good for the environment. But neighbors insisted Mann was just interested in making money and didn’t seem to care that the turbines could negatively impact their property values, quality of life and, possibly, their health. In spite of these objections, the ZBA approved the special permit for the project in May, and neighbors appealed the decision.
At the outset of 2011, Sergio Quadros of Cleanergie Clean Energy Architecture had high hopes of building an egg-beater-style wind turbine at Almeida’s Used Cars and Parts at 20 Columbus Road. But concerns that the turbine could interfere with nearby WPLM’s radio signal and disputes between members of the Almeida family left Quadros with little alternative but to withdraw the proposal. His hope of transforming this junkyard into a clean energy site officially hit the skids and the town hasn’t heard anything further on that plan.
In September, it was Don Smith of Colony Place Development LLC with his own plan for a wind turbine – this time at Colony Place. The original plan, submitted in 2010, was scrapped this year in favor of building the turbine closer to Wal-Mart, so the structure wouldn’t jam radio signals from nearby WPLM. The ZBA voted unanimously to grant the special permits. As part of the deal, Colony Place Development agreed to install a detuning device to ensure the turbine won’t interfere with radio signals. The turbine has yet to be erected.
Things weren’t much quieter on the building construction front, as the Planning and Zoning boards fielded a myriad of complaints about a proposed apartment building on Howland Street. But, try as they might, neighbors opposed to the project were met with frustration when the Planning Board unanimously supported Polar Cat LLC’s plan to erect the apartment building in the old parking lot on that street. Some neighbors were outraged, saying they had a right to continue using the lot, which is owned by Phil Cronin of Polar Cat LLC. They objected to the size of the building and other considerations, but the ZBA granted Polar Cat the special permit in July. Neighbors have threatened to appeal that decision.
Meanwhile, plans for a movie studio in Plymouth officially flat lined in 2011 when, in June, Waverly Oaks Golf Club owner Mark Ridder presented conceptual plans for a 75-unit housing development on the golf course property. Months later, former Plymouth Rock Studios CEO Bill Wynne acknowledge he was no longer affiliated with the company or the movie studio project, leaving new CEO Joe DiLorenzo the last principal standing. DiLorenzo says he continues to seek financing for the project, which would run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. A state-funded movie studio, with multiple sound stages, is now slated for the town of Devens.
In January, the ZBA approved reconstruction of the American Legion Post 40 at 199 Federal Furnace Road after floodwaters destroyed the old building. Abutter Allan Zanotti initially appealed that special permit, but backed off once details of an agreement between Post 40 and the neighbors were finalized.
This year, Town Meeting first denied then approved a proposal to change the zoning of Colony Place to allow car dealerships there. Town Meeting also approved additional zoning bylaw language that tightens restrictions to protect the aquifer.
Likely the least controversial project the Planning Board considered in 2011 is a plan to construct two medical buildings at 40 Industrial Park Road on land abutting the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Details of the project are being debated, but, overall, the Planning Board seems receptive to the project.