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Plymouth Planning Board backs Hedges Pond wind turbine

PLYMOUTH – The Rev. Bob Stott thanked them ahead of time for bearing the burden of it, but many abutters to the proposed 302-foot-tall wind turbine off Hedges Pond Road weren’t keen on the sentiment.

“I don’t believe in taking one for the team when it comes to my property, when it comes to my biggest investment,” Michelle Angelides of Dyer Pass said.

Cheryl Newall, also of Dyer Pass, said she and her husband are anticipating their first child, but the happy occasion has been marred by anxiety over this “monster machine” proposed in their neighborhood.

“It honestly makes me afraid,” Newall said through tears. “Everyone has told me that being a mother is intuitive – that I’ll just know how to take care of my baby. I just feel it inside that this is not the place to put one. Please base your planning on our needs and plans and not on a corporation that is just trying to make a buck.”

In spite of these and other protests, the Planning Board voted, 3-1, in favor of recommending the Zoning Board of Appeals grant Associated Wind Developers a special permit to erect the 302-foot turbine. Planning Board member Bill Wennerberg was the lone vote against the project, while Planning Board member Tim Grandy recused himself from the discussion and vote because he said he’s appealing a wind turbine project.

The vote came in the wake of a report released by an independent panel of experts convened by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Health that determined that wind turbines, while an annoyance to some, do not pose a health hazard.

Associated Wind Developers principal Brian Kuhn, who is also vice president of Aeronautica Windpower, said the 750 kilowatt wind turbine his company plans to install off Hedges Pond Road will generate as much energy in one year as the energy needs of 254 homes in that same time frame. The project would sell discounted electricity to the town and community, he added.

The 302-foot-tall turbine is significantly smaller than the 460-foot-tall wind turbine that was originally proposed on this site by a different developer, he added. Associated Wind Developers also uses American-made turbines, not those manufactured in China, and the company sites the turbines further from homes, going above and beyond the state’s siting criteria.

The nearest lot line is 350 feet from the proposed turbine, the nearest property line is 449 feet away, and the nearest residence is 1,052 feet from the turbine, Kuhn added.

Planning Board member Paul McAlduff said he’s a member of the building committee for the new high school, which is currently rated at silver status for green energy. He asked if the school could buy energy from the turbine, thus enhancing its rating to, possibly, the platinum level. Kuhn said the town, schools and individuals can buy energy credits from this project.

“We sell utility credits with the new net meter regulations,” Kuhn added. “If we can sell the entire output to the town, we’d be happy to. We can make electricity by the wind for less than retail. We can offer a discount to the town and we can still make money at it.”

Ship Pond Road resident Jeff Luce said he supports the turbine project wholeheartedly and feels that clean energy is the way to prevent the stockpiling of nuclear waste, slag from coal plants and reliance on foreign oil.

Jim Lake, of Manomet, suggested that Plymouth is behind the curve when it comes to green energy, which has been embraced by the neighboring towns of Plymouth and Bourne.

“You can see them everywhere else except here,” he added. “As a homeowner in Plymouth, I would be proud to have one in my neighborhood, and certainly in my town.”

Cedarville resident Michael Mulligan said the proposed location for the turbine is the best possible place for it. Stott said neighbors willing to support the turbine project are helping everyone in Plymouth.

But others, like Amanda Hanson of Dyer Pass and Don Boynton of Hedges Pond Road, said the turbine will be an eyesore and impact property values and their quality of life.

Hanson said she and her husband have invested money in new windows and other improvements to enhance the value of their home. The view has everything to do with that value, she added, and this turbine will take a serious bite out of it.

Newall said she and her family would never do anything to jeopardize the safety or happiness of other residents, and it isn’t fair to ask her and others to embrace a turbine project that would negatively impact their lives.