PLYMOUTH – Local attorney Ed Angley joked that it was a miracle. But, the fact that it took just a week to get his hands on the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) response to Stop & Shop Supermarket Company LLC’s sound studies on a proposed wind turbine behind the supermarket seemed eclipsed by what the agency had to say.
The DEP had concerns that the proposed 275-foot wind turbine might exceed sound limit guidelines during the winter. So, the agency recommended three possible actions be taken: The applicant could withdraw its proposal without prejudice, leaving the door open for another submittal; the Planning Board could recommend the Zoning Board of Appeals deny the requested special permit for the project; or Stop & Shop Supermarket Company LLC could implement mitigation measures, essentially shutting the turbine down from 1 to 3 a.m. during the winter months. This last recommendation included a requirement that the applicant complete another sound study of the project during the winter.
Armed with the DEP’s report, planning staff shook their heads.
While the concerns seemed relatively minor, Director of Planning and Development Lee Hartmann said he and staff didn’t feel comfortable recommending approval of the project.
Meanwhile, Attorney David Paliotti said he represents residents at Algonquin Heights, the residential area closest to the proposed turbine, who are against the proposal. Paliotti contends that the proposed turbine will exceed the sound limit guidelines, cause health problems, be a blight on the landscape, and cause property values to nosedive. 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.
Paliotti also refutes a report released last year by the DEP in which the agency reviewed previous studies on wind turbines and said it came to the conclusion that they didn’t pose a health hazard. In the same breath, the study confirms that turbines could cause health problems if they cause sleep disturbances. The report, which has been widely criticized, involved a panel of experts who are connected or known to be in favor of the wind turbine industry, Paliotti said. He referenced a doctor’s opinion of the information as utterly biased, and said there is no clear and specific public benefit of the proposed wind turbine.
“If we can’t do this in a commercial space next to a highway with a modest-size turbine, we’re never going to,” local attorney Ted Bosen countered. He said the turbine would displace carbon-generating energy sources, rendering a clear and public benefit.
Precinct 1 Town Meeting Rep. Everett Malaguti said he is in favor of alternative energy but this proposed turbine is in the wrong place and far too close to residential property. Precinct 12 Rep. Steve Lydon disagreed, contending that the wind turbine should be approved as long as the applicant goes along with the DEP recommendation of shutting the turbine down during the specified winter hours and performing the winter sound study.
Angley said his client is happy to perform these mitigation measures.
The Planning Board was divided on the subject, and Planning Board member Marc Garrett was not present to swing the vote one way or another. Planning Board Chairman Paul McAlduff and Planning Board member Malcolm MacGregor voted in favor of recommending approval with the DEP’s stipulations, but Planning Board members Tim Grandy and Bill Wennerberg were against that plan.
The tie vote means no recommendation will be handed to the ZBA for its consideration on whether to grant Stop & Shop a special permit to construct the turbine.
The ZBA will hear the case at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 19.
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