Plymouth got a little more organized in 2012; it erected its first industrial wind turbine and fielded more requests for solar fields.
Plans to build a retail center behind Job Lot in West Plymouth resurfaced, and sand and gravel operations continued.
It was also the year of splitting parcels in half to build one more house, medical office buildings, townhouses and illegal additions.
Plans for a downtown parking garage behind Memorial Hall inched forward. And 2012 closed out with a bang when the owner of Waverly Oaks Golf Club off Long Pond Road filed plans for a subdivision on the course, effectively ending any speculation the property would still be used someday as a movie studio site.
Balboni LLC at Camelot Park erected Plymouth’s first industrial-sized wind turbine. It’s 364 feet high but not close to any residences, so it appeared without much fanfare (pun intended). A small wind turbine was erected at 185 Center Hill Road, but that wasn’t large enough to generate much hot air.
Meanwhile, all but one appeal of Future Wind Generations’ four approved turbines for 810 Head of the Bay Road were settled this year. Associated Wind Developers’ approved wind turbine at 143 Hedges Pond Road is also under appeal and yet to be constructed. Colony Place LLC’s proposal for a wind turbine generated opposition, but its approval was not appealed, probably because the company owns Colony Place and all the buildings therein.
The push back has been hefty, not just from abutters but from legislators like Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, and Rep. Vinny deMacedo, R-Plymouth, who say industrial-sized wind turbines just don’t belong in residential areas. A contradictory state study both acknowledged possible health impacts from these behemoths and denied them. Then a Maine study came right out and said wind turbines can be a health hazard because they can impact sleep.
So, some developers tried a different tack this year, pushing for solar instead. It came as some surprise to residents when they learned that solar farms are allowed uses that don’t require special permits or approvals beyond a sign off on site-plan review. In March, Renewable Energy Development Partners LLC announced plans to construct a three-megawatt solar field on a 17-acre Herring Pond Road parcel. Site plan review on the project was approved and it was given the green light. Then, in May, the Carreau Family Trust, which operates the Ellis Haven Campground, announced its plans for a one-half megawatt solar field off South Meadow Road. The Planning Board voted unanimously to approve the site plan for the project. By August, another solar developer had stepped forward. This time it was Sage Stone proposing a 37-acre solar field off Old Sandwich Road. Planning Board members bemoaned the loss of woodlands to these uses, but there wasn’t much they could do about it.
In other parts of town, 2012 was ushered in with the rise of the medical office building, as these projects sprung up in the Industrial Park next to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, on the Jordan Hospital property and, most recently, at Cordage Park. These plans sounded a more positive note from the town’s planners as the buildings are reasonably attractive and will boost the local economy with additional taxes, require few town services and, possibly, provide some jobs.
Scattered among these projects were several proposals to split a property in half in order to build another home, as Manomet homeowners tried to maximize their land.
And Howland Street weighed in with yet another proposal for townhouses – this time for 22 units in three buildings on land owned by the Stasinos Family Trust, located across from Polar Cat LLC’s property slated to become an 11-unit apartment building. The plans are conceptual at the moment, but Polar Cat’s have been approved.
Perhaps the bigger news was High Rock Cranberry Crescent LLC’s proposal for 300,000 square feet of retail space on 53 acres of land behind Job Lot on Carver Road, and, most recently, Waverly Oaks Golf Club owner Mark Ridder filing definitive plans for 113 homes on his Long Pond Road golf course.
This was also the year selectmen gave the Plymouth Growth and Development Corporation the go-ahead with the design phase of a parking garage behind Memorial Hall, and endorsed the Plymouth Industrial/Commercial/Office Land Study Committee’s report, which identifies and prioritizes available land for commercial, industrial or office space uses. The town took steps to make it easier for developers to figure out if a project would be feasible, and is trying to streamline the approval process so projects that are the most beneficial to the tax base and least taxing on services don’t have an uphill battle.
In short, change is in the air as Plymouth plunges into 2013 and makes way for more homes, more medical buildings, more wind turbines and more solar fields.