March 30, 2013

Plymouth Planning Board: Algonquin Heights objects to Stop & Shop turbine

By Emily Clark | Wicked Local Plymouth | Posted Mar 30, 2013 |

PLYMOUTH – Stop & Shop officials say building a wind turbine behind the Samoset Street supermarket will help them go green. But an attorney representing Algonquin Heights, the apartment complex located some 600 feet from the proposed turbine, says the chain’s attempt to go green will decrease the value of his client’s property and impact the health and well being of its tenants.

The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company LLC needs a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals to construct a 275-foot wind turbine behind the Stop & Shop at 129 Samoset St. The company made a presentation Monday night to the Planning Board, which is charged with making a recommendation to the ZBA, the board empowered to grant the permit.

Wind turbine proposals have sparked intense debate over the past few years when citizens objected to their construction in residential neighborhoods. Studies tell a conflicting story of turbines and their impact on health. A state study refuted claims that wind turbines are a health hazard while still acknowledging the possibility that they could. A Maine study determined that if wind turbines impact sleep patterns, they do pose a health risk.

Stop & Shop engineers have submitted reports they say confirm that this wind turbine will be below the sound limit guidelines and won’t adversely affect the area aesthetically.

A doctor representing Stop & Shop maintained that studies show no adverse health impacts from wind turbines. He also suggested that people’s predisposition against wind turbines impacts their annoyance and physical response to them.

But an engineer who helped write another study said that’s just not so. His research and a wealth of scientific data confirm that wind turbines can and most certainly do pose health risks, he said, also suggesting that current technology can’t accurately measure infrasound.

Attorney David Paliotti, representing Algonquin Heights, refuted the Stop & Shop engineer’s claims, saying the proposed wind turbine will exceed the sound limit guidelines. He also questioned the company’s shadow-flicker study and the applicant’s research on the visibility of the turbine.

This turbine will decrease the value of Algonquin Heights, he said, and tenants who are annoyed by it or suffering health problems as a result of it may withhold their rent. The wind turbine offers no benefit to anyone but the applicant, he added, noting it will be a blight on the landscape and could potentially harm wildlife.

The Stop & Shop turbine would be located approximately 600 feet from the Algonquin Heights apartment complex and 962 feet from the nearest home on Westerly Road. The proposed turbine would generate 850 kilowatts and would stand about as tall as the Massachusetts Maritime Academy wind turbine in Buzzards Bay. Energy from it would be used for the supermarket.

Stop & Shop Vice President for Responsible Retailing Jihad Rizkala said his company is committed to reducing its carbon footprint by 20 percent by 2015, with 90 percent of its waste being diverted from landfills by 2020. Stop & Shop is ensuring that all new stores are LEED certified – a designation for environmentally green construction. He said 54 of the company’s stores already hold that certification.

Plymouth 400 President Kevin O’Reilly and several residents spoke in favor of the turbine proposal, noting that green projects like these help wean the country off fossil fuels and are good for the environment. But Precinct 1 Town Meeting Rep. Everett Malaguti warned against disregarding the Algonquin Heights tenants and suggested the turbine be located at least 1,000 feet from any residence.

Stop & Shop requested a continuance of Monday’s hearing so input form the state Department of Environmental Protection can be included in the discussion, Planning Board Chairman Marc Garrett explained. The board voted unanimously to continue the meeting to a date yet to be determined.

Stop & Shop is slated to go before the ZBA at 7:30 p.m. April 17, but local attorney Ed Angley, representing the applicant, said a continuance of that hearing will also likely be required.

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