SAUGUS – It’s getting windy in Saugus. Or not.
Town Meeting member Peter Manoogian said he’s going to submit an article for the next Town Meeting that will prevent the Saugus Alternative Energy Committee from “focusing their energy on wind,” after an application for wind turbines was recently filed with the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Town Meeting created the committee so we’re going to amend their mission …” he said. “We put this to sleep last year, at least we thought we did, but it seems like they’re trudging on. They won’t quit.”
Town Meeting voted last May to refer an article seeking a zoning bylaw change to allow wind turbines near Rumney Marsh to the Board of Health due to possible health concerns.
However, SAEC member Joanne Vannah said filing with the FAA, which is dated Jan. 18, 2013, is just a part of an ongoing feasibility study.
“It’s really just to assess the height limitation,” said Vannah. “We did win an $85,000 grant that was issued last January. So the goal is to finish the study and get the results. Whether or not we pursue it at this time, that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, but we’ll at least be getting as much data as we can.”
Vannah said even if the feasibility study came back with “outstanding results,” health issues, including possible problems relating to low frequency sounds from the turbines, would still take precedence.
“There hasn’t been a lot of studies looking at the different frequency sounds,” she said. “There’s a limited amount of research that’s been done. It’s just been a reported complaint, it hasn’t really gathered the research that it needs.”
A meteorological tower was also a part of the feasibility study as a 164-foot tall tower was installed off of Route 107 last February to measure wind speed in the area. Vannah said that tower is still in place as she looks for more money for an acoustical study in the area.
“The minimum is one year, so even if we’re not pursuing wind at this time, if we were to do something in the future at least we’d have as much data as possible,” she said. “This data is going to be shared with the Finance Committee, Town Meeting, the Board of Selectmen …”
But while wind turbines may have been nixed for the time being, Vannah said she’s been seeing some “miscommunication” about what’s going on with the project.
“It would be much easier if instead of bothering (Town Manager) Scott (Crabtree), they would just pick up the phone or send me an email,” said Vannah. “I got all these emails today about, ‘Oh, what are these turbine permits?’ This has been going on since 2008. It’s a feasibility study, if we were going to put a turbine here, this is how high it could be. It’s really that simple.”
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