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Lawyer: No noise impact in request

HERTFORD – An attorney representing at least seven Perquimans residents opposed to a wind farm in the county claims the application by Apex Clean Energy fails to address noise impacts.

Chad W. Essick makes that claim in a letter to Perquimans County dated July 21. He is asking that the county respond to his claims prior to Tuesday, the date the Perquimans County Planning Board is scheduled to resume its review of Apex’s application.

Apex is proposing to build a $300 million project called Timbermill on a site straddling Perquimans and Chowan counties. The project would include 105 wind turbines as tall as 600 feet.

Perquimans County Manager Frank Heath said attorneys for the county are reviewing Essick’s letter.

An outside consultant hired by the county, Clarion Associates, reviewed the Apex application for a county conditional use permit and determined it addressed all the relevant issues and contained all the required documentation. Clarion said the firms cited by Apex in its application had the “relevant expertise and competencies and sufficiently offered information as required.”

The study cited in the Apex application used a sound modeling study prepared by Mark Bastasch of the firm CH2M.

Essick, however, claims Apex did not complete background studies of the existing sound levels in the area. Those studies would have provided a baseline to compare the noise level now compared to what the noise level would be if the turbines were built.

“To our knowledge, this is the only sound or noise memo or report Timbermill has submitted to date.” Essick said in his letter to the county.

Essick went on to say that the Apex application failed to include all the information required to satisfy Perquimans’ rules for “ice drop/ice throw” and “blade drop/blade throw” on wind energy projects.

Apex officials had no immediate comment on Essick’s letter.

In his letter to the county, Essick said his clients include, but are not limited to Leary and Allison Winslow, Paul and Kristi Copeland, Clyde Elliott and Tommy and Sherry Harrell. All seven own and live on property that adjoins and abuts the proposed wind energy project.

According to the Clarion report, amendments to Perquimans’ zoning ordinance in February require the noise report for a wind energy project to calculate the projected maximum levels of infrasonic and ultrasonic sound, impulsive noise, and prominent discrete tones.

Infrasound is similar to ocean waves. Ultrasound frequencies are readily absorbed by the atmosphere and do not travel well. Impulsive noise sources are things like gunshots, blasting, and hammer mills. Examples of prominent discrete tones include noise from sources such as mechanical systems for ventilation, and machinery with rotating parts such as motors and fans.

In its report to the county dated July 9, Clarion concluded that the turbines Apex is considering using for the wind energy project are not expected to exceed the county’s thresholds for maximum sound generation levels.

Leary Winslow, a turf farmer and one of the property owners represented by Essick, said the county isn’t doing enough to protect residents.

“It appears that the county and Clarion are satisfied with taking Apex’s word for everything and not doing any independent studies,” Winslow said in an email. “I am disappointed that the county has $50,000 in an escrow account for this exact thing, yet our attorney and experts had to point it out. The application is incomplete and has not met the requirements of the county’s wind ordinance.”