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Proposal for wind turbines at Stop & Shop still uncertain

WAYLAND – Prospects for Stop & Shop’s proposal to place six 35-foot wind turbines in the parking lot of their new store at the Wayland Town Center appeared to dim at the Planning Board meeting on Tuesday, as Town Planner Sarkis Sarkisian said the community’s current zoning bylaws preclude approval of the request.

Even more discouraging to the developer – who is seeking approval before the parking lot is paved in early to mid-July – is that a bylaw change would require a Town Meeting vote, which might take years.

At the same time, Sarkisian said, Wayland has been officially designated as a “Green Community,” so it needs to be a “little proactive and to seek what the options might be in allowing this.”

He suggested three possibilities might include granting conditional approval; working with Stop & Shop to locate the turbines in the NStar easement area on the opposite side of Route 20; or seeking a more suitable location off-site.

Residents and other interested parties were clearly divided.

George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, said he thought this was an “extraordinary project” and worthy of support.

Resident Tom Sciacca, on the other hand, argued the undertaking should be looked at as marketing, equivalent to “hanging out big signs in the parking lot saying ‘we’re green.’”

As for the three options put forth by Sarkisian, former Planning Board member Anette Lewis said, “I have no idea what ‘conditional approval’ is, nor do I think it’s legal.”

According to Frank Dougherty of Twenty Wayland, the project developer, placing the turbines off-site would not allow Stop & Shop to capture LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits, which is one of their major goals.

Another issue with many residents was how the turbines would fit in with the New England village theme of the vision for the Town Center project.

Ted Rice, for instance, said he thought that many Wayland residents would be shocked at the appearance of the turbines.

“I live in a 17th-century house in the Historic District and was completely for the Town Center project,” Rice said. “I even invited Frank to come talk to the neighbors about it. I’ve been to all the meetings, and this is not what he presented.”

Legal opinions are still pending about whether the turbines could be considered an accessory use of the site.

The Planning Board voted to continue the discussion on the issue on until Thursday, June 19 at 6:30 p.m.