The state Appeals Court on Wednesday upheld a Land Court decision in favor of a proposed wind turbine on Turkey Hill.
The town’s planning board approved a special permit for Conservation Wind Partners to erect a turbine on property owned by Trustees of Reservation.
The owners of the Golden Living nursing home appealed on the grounds that the company failed to meet the requirements of a special permit and that the project created safety concerns.
The proposed site consists of 314 acres in the Whitney and Thayer Woods and Turkey Hill Reservation.
Background. We recite the facts as found by the judge following a bench trial, reserving certain details for our discussion of specific issues. On October 28, 2010, Conservation Wind filed an application for a special permit and site plan approval to erect a wind turbine on certain property (locus) owned by the trustees. [FN3] The locus consists of two large parcels of land, which together comprise approximately 314 acres within two adjacent reservations known as Whitney and Thayer Woods (WTW) and Turkey Hill Reservation (Turkey Hill). [FN4] The towns of Cohasset and Hingham (collectively, towns) own much of the land surrounding the locus, which, along with the locus, is open to the public for recreational use.
The towns granted conservation restrictions to the trustees, limiting the use of the town-owned land in Turkey Hill. The restrictions prohibit the construction of any permanent structure, cutting or removing trees and any surface use other than agricultural, farming, forest, or recreational uses.
In addition to appendix A, a land use and management plan (land use plan) was appended to each of the municipal restrictions as exhibit B. Harris testified that the terms of the land use plans do not restrict any part of the locus.
A sound study determined that the wind turbine would only slightly increase the noise level at the nursing home, the closest neighboring property.
The feasibility study also evaluated the shadow flicker effect from the turbine and dtermined that it would occur on less than 55 hours a year at the nursing home. There are no limits on shadow flicker, but the court ruling said the industry standard is 30 hours or less.
Golden Living challenged the findings of the sound study, but the Land Court judge ruled that the nursing home is protected by a noise limit set by the planning board as one of 37 conditions on the project.
The judge also dismissed the argument about the shadow flicker, saying the nursing home is surrounded by trees that will block most of the shadows. The planning board required that the turbine be shut down if the flicker exceeds 30 minutes a day or 30 hours a year.
Golden Living also cited the possibility of turbine collapse and fire, but the Land Court said the town had adequately addressed those concerns.
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