Bourne selectmen spent more than two hours Tuesday night (Sept. 22) discussing Future Generation Wind plans to transport equipment and parts for four wind turbines from the Port of New Bedford to Keith Mann’s cranberry tract in Head of the Bay.
The wary board, however, tabled its vote about approving a license/permit for nighttime delivery over Bourne roadways from the Cohasset Narrows Bridge to Main Street to Belmont Circle to Head of the Bay Road. The vote is now set for Wednesday, Sept. 30.
Selectman Peter Meier said he needed eight more days to digest information about the convoy-like transport of turbine parts and their possible impacts on local roads, bridge infrastructure, early-morning commuting patterns in Buzzards Bay, shade-tree damage along Head of the Bay Road, and residents trying to sleep at night.
Selectman Michael Blanton agreed with Meier’s assessment. “I’m not prepared to move forward tonight,” Blanton said.
The proposed delivery of turbine parts has become a high-profile issue for selectmen and was the subject of a special code-enforcement meeting among town inspectors last week.
Selectmen at this point do not want to be portrayed as opposed to alternative-energy efforts or local business in general, but members are trying to protect local interests as they relate to infrastructure impacts and early-morning Buzzards Bay motoring disruption.
Selectmen Chairman Steve Mealy kept the discussion solely focused on turbine-delivery issues. He precluded any discussion about human-health impacts slated for Bourne Board of Health review which was scheduled for Sept. 23.
At the end of the evening, Mealy described his board’s review as complete but “tedious and lengthy” and, at this point, including up to 20 special conditions.
A question remains about selectmen approving delivery of turbine parts with a condition for mitigation should the plan fall apart or extend to interrupting Bourne commuters after 5 or 6 a.m.
Future Wind Attorney Jonathan Fitch of Sandwich advised selectmen there were “enormous financial implications” with a delayed vote.
But Meier said project proponents appeared before the board in July, hoping for “a slam dunk. Now there is new information to digest,” he said, adding that, though the board is elected “to make difficult decisions,” members should not be rushed.
Fitch reminded selectmen that, in terms of the need for fiscal mitigation should things unravel with turbine-delivery trucks and their heavy loads, the Bourne transport license/permit is “revocable.”
The license – if ultimately approved – would allow delivery over town roads and the removal and replacement of a guardrail section off Head of the Bay Road at the entrance to cranberry grower Keith Mann bogs and upland.
Parts for three turbines would be trucked in with wide loads along winding Head of the Bay Road; a fourth turbine would be delivered via Belmont Circle to Route 25 westbound for windfarm placement on the east side of the highway.
Deliveries would be spaced appropriately and involve detail-coverage in town by Bourne police and fire department members. Escort work falls to State Police.
Town Administrator Thomas Guerino remains concerned about massive trucks loaded with turbine parts damaging infrastructure below the Cohasset Narrows Bridge and along Main Street.
Selectmen, as a condition of delivery approval, are set to request a $2 million bond being placed by Future Generation. This would allow for – among other things – local inspections of infrastructure once the project concludes.
Mealy said any final license the board decides upon would need review – “as to form” – by Bourne Town Counsel Robert Troy.
Planning Board Chairman Chris Farrell, a former Bourne police officer, reminded selectmen that massive moving projects involving large trucks often lead to problems.
Farrell said that, three decades ago, the tires of a large hauling truck blew out when the former Eldridge Lumber Co. was moved from Perry Avenue to Main Street. He said the situation caused unanticipated traffic problems at Main Street.