The Bourne Board of Selectmen Tuesday night, July 14, deferred approval of a request for an easement that would allow for the delivery of wind turbine equipment to a cranberry farm just across the Bourne-Plymouth town line. The easement would allow for the removal of roughly 800 feet of guardrails on Head of the Bay Road so that nearly five dozen trucks, each one weighing more than 140 tons, could turn into the farm owned by cranberry grower Keith A. Mann.
Board members said they were not comfortable granting the easement because they had not been provided copies of engineering plans, weight loading calculations, or a draft easement.
Mr. Mann is the founder of Future Generation Wind. His plan is to install four wind turbines on his family’s cranberry farm in Plymouth. The turbines would generate electricity that he would then sell to Eversource for energy credits. He would then resell those credits to customers who would apply them to their Eversource bills.
Sherrie L. Maurer is a project manager for Gamesa Wind LLC of Trevose, Pennsylvania, the company hired to deliver the turbine equipment. Ms. Maurer explained that there would 40 to 60 trucks, each with a length of 198 feet and weighing 287,000 pounds, delivering the equipment to the Mann bogs on Head of the Bay Road.
The easement request was made by Michels Wind Energy, which is headquartered in Brownsville, Wisconsin. Michels would be responsible for the removal of the guardrails to allow access for the trucks to the Mann farm. The company would also be responsible for restoring the guardrails and any reparations to the road following delivery.
The route the trucks would take goes from New Bedford to Wareham, follows Cranberry Highway/Route 28 to Red Brook Road to Head of the Bay Road. Board chairman Stephen F. Mealy, a mechanical engineer by profession, asked if Gamesa had done weight calculations relative to the number of trucks, the total weight involved, and how much weight Head of the Bay Road can handle.
“This is an old country road obviously,” he said.
Ms. Maurer said that Bayside Engineering of Woburn had done the calculations, but she did not have them with her that night. She offered to make them available to board members, but also said that Bayside had assured Gamesa that the road could handle the weight load.
Ms. Maurer said the plan was to start delivering the equipment next week, on Tuesday, July 21. Board members stiffened at that prospect and said they were averse to granting the easement without being provided more information, including a set of engineering plans and the weight calculations done by Bayside.
Mr. Guerino added that, as yet, no draft easement had been written for review by Bourne town counsel Robert S. Troy. Ms. Maurer said it was her understanding that project permitting by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation was all her company needed to present for selectmen to approve the easement.
Mr. Guerino pointed out that Head of the Bay Road is a town road, under Bourne’s jurisdiction and not the state’s. He also explained that the selectmen could approve a temporary easement, but a permanent easement would have to be approved by residents at Town Meeting. Ms. Maurer said her company only required a temporary easement.
Mr. Guerino also noted that, while the board is the only governing body in Bourne with the authority to grant an easement, it would not do so without a document being drafted and its language reviewed and approved by Mr. Troy.
Mr. Mealy said that selectmen would want to examine the engineering reports, as well as the draft easement, before they would even consider granting the request.
“There’s no way, you coming in this evening, that this would be available the 21st, anyway,” Mr. Mealy said.
Adding confusion to the project is the question of ownership of a bridge that passes over Red Brook in Wareham, part of the route the trucks would travel. Both the state and the Town of Wareham deny ownership of and responsibility for the bridge. A sewer line that services residents of Hideaway Village runs beneath the bridge. Ms. Maurer said that the project will not move forward until the question of that ownership has been resolved.
William Combs, logistics coordinator for Gamesa, said the turbines to be constructed were being offloaded from a ship docked in New Bedford. Mr. Combs said there was another ship on its way with more equipment, due to arrive in New Bedford early next week. He said Gamesa was counting on getting the easement on Tuesday, July 14, and questioned when the board might give its approval, so he can recalculate deliveries
“I have a lot going on,” he said, asking what the time frame might be for granting approval.
Mr. Coombs explained that delivery of the equipment to the site was to take place between 1 AM and 5 AM, Monday through Thursday, for a period of three weeks. Given the delay as selectmen consider whether to approve the easement, that could eventually become six days a week, he said.
Mr. Mealy said that until Bayside Engineering says the bridge can support the trucks, the board would not grant the easement. Mr. Coombs suggested that an alternate, longer route could be used that would avoid the bridge. Mr. Mealy said there was still the question of the engineering report with the weight-bearing calculations that the board would want to examine, as well as the draft easement.
Selectmen continued the matter until their next meeting on Tuesday night, July 21.
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