Bourne selectmen voted 3-2 Wednesday night (Sept. 30), after nearly three hours of discussion, to approve a turbine-transport license for the Future Generation wind farm set for construction at cranberry grower Keith Mann’s Head of the Bay tract across the South Plymouth line.
The license carries 15 conditions, ranging from town efforts to protect roadway surfaces, utility lines, shade trees, and commuting motorists to when the convoys of extra-large trucks – across a span of four weeks – may carry heavy turbine equipment, parts, and machinery into Buzzards Bay via the Cohasset Narrows Bridge, which was recently reconstructed.
Future Generation planned the project. Atlantic Design of Sagamore provided engineering plans. ConEdison Solutions is the project owner. Gamesa will coordinate delivery of parts from the port of New Bedford via Route 6 eastbound to Main Street, Buzzards Bay, and then on to both Route 25 and Head of the Bay Road.
Selectman Peter Meier voted against the license, saying he was elected to protect “the weak and people with no voice” who oppose the four-turbine wind farm. Meier was unable to link selectmen’s license approval to Bourne Board of Health review of wind farm health and environmental concerns.
Without a condition of health-board scrutiny of turbine impacts, Meier said he would not support the turbine transport license or alternative-energy effort.
Selectman Michael Blanton also opposed the project. He said many questions – about possible damages to private property during turbine-transport operations, the need for more than a $1 million cash bond to be posted, and the inability to gauge “unforeseen possibilities” – had not been resolved.
“Some of my questions were answered, but I’m still have misgivings about the (license) request,” Blanton said.
Board chairman Steve Mealy addressed that sentiment, saying “the issue of transport was narrowly defined” by selectmen and the question of mitigation – if the public interest suffers during delivery of turbine parts – was reasonable.
Future Generation attorney Jon Fitch of Sandwich accommodated mitigation sentiment as well, saying the firm would donate $50,000 to the Town of Bourne and that concerns about disruptions to municipal and private property would be carefully dealt with.
Fitch advised selectmen the town health board carries “awesome power” but no jurisdiction over four turbines that will be built just beyond Bourne’s South Plymouth boundary. He said there is no need for Future Generation to accommodate that board’s request that the firm file a variance request for wind farm review.
Turbine-delivery vehicles will cross Bourne roads between midnight and 5 a.m. Monday through Thursday for four weeks. Most trips will be along Main Street, Buzzards Bay, to winding and tree-lined Head of the Bay Road.
Some trips, however, will be charted from Belmont Circle in Buzzards Bay to Route 25 westbound to supply a turbine site east of that highway.
Bourne Police Chief Dennis Woodside said his officers would allow just one heavy truck with out-sized loads into Head of the Bay Road at a single time. He said if Gamesa willfully violates that project control, he would recommend the town revoke the transport license.
“Head of the Bay Road is the main concern for us,” Woodside said. “If there is more than one truck at a time on that road, we’re going to stop them.”
Future Generation will place warning signs for motorists at the two Buzzards Bay rotaries and update town managers in neighboring Plymouth and Wareham about possible disruptions to early-morning commuting through Head of the Bay.
Some 30 residents attended the license hearing. They lodged concerns about turbines causing problems related to noise, public health, a reduced quality-of-life factor, and threats to area tranquility.
Some urged selectmen to bring the transport license request to a special town meeting where more residents could gauge project impacts. Others said the project remains a threat to Native American sacred sites and that the wind farm as now proposed would interfere with religious rights of the Wampanoag tribe.
Part of the delivery project involves removal of a section of guardrails along Head of the Bay Road at the entrance to the Mann bogs.
Bourne Highway Superintendent George Sala advised selectmen that, from his perspective, his department, along with the police and fire chiefs, answered all questions directed to them about turbine transport and addressed all issues in recent weeks that evolved in code-enforcement staff meetings.
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