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Turbine appellants say permit modifications aren’t enough

PLYMOUTH – A request to amend language in two conditions of a special permit the Zoning Board of Appeals granted last spring received mixed reviews Wednesday night.

In May, the ZBA granted Future Generation Wind LLC a special permit to construct a fourth wind turbine off Head of the Bay Road. Richard and Kathleen Turgeon, whose property abuts the site, appealed that decision but the case has yet to be heard in Superior Court. In the meantime, Future Generation is requesting modifications to two conditions of that special permit in an effort to appease some of the couple’s concerns.

However, Turgeon’s attorneys, Lauren Fotos and Christopher Senie, say the proposed modifications don’t begin to address their issues with the project.

“They think the decision had fatal flaws,” Future Generation Wind attorney Bob Betters said, referencing the Turgeons’ take on the special permit. “We don’t agree it’s fatally flawed.”

However, to expedite the appeals process, Betters said his client, Keith Mann, of Future Generation Wind, is asking that the language be tightened in two of the conditions. Condition four would be amended with language that makes it clear that the ZBA would oversee the disbursement of the $75,000 in mitigation money Mann has offered to neighbors who claim they are negatively impacted by the wind turbine. And 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.

Senie suggested that the $75,000 mitigation fund is a ludicrous amount – completely inadequate to address the potential mitigation measures.

“I don’t think this mitigation measure will have any impact at all,” he added. In addition, he said condition 11 needs even more tightening to ensure that the applicant can’t build a larger or noisier turbine than the one approved.

“Where does it say he can exceed the conditions set forth in the special permit,” ZBA member Michael Main asked. “It’s got to be the same. It cannot exceed it. It says so right in the conditions.”

Senie persisted that there is no language guaranteeing that the board can’t approve a larger or noisier turbine at a later date, through the public hearing process.

ZBA member Ed Conroy said he’s 100 percent against the proposed modification of condition 4, which he said would require the ZBA to micromanage the project. Condition 11 is already clear; the project can’t exceed its specifications as outlined in the special permit, he added.

“My wife won’t even let me handle a checkbook and you’re asking me to handle $75,000?” Main asked.

ZBA member Bill Keohan, by contrast, was in favor of both proposed modifications. It seems fitting that the ZBA sign off on the mitigation, he said.

“I think what makes this difficult is that it’s not even part of the bylaw,” ZBA Chairman Peter Conner said regarding the proposed modification to condition 4.

The ZBA voted, 4-1, to separate the two conditions and vote on them separately, with Keohan the lone vote against this measure.

The board also voted, 4-1, against the request to modify condition 4, with Keohan, again, voting against.

The proposed modification to condition 11 received a different reception, with the board voting unanimously to support it. While several board members said they didn’t feel the modification language was necessary, they said they would support it if it expedited the appeals process.