Public packs forum on turbines
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December 16, 2009 4:35 PM
By CHRISTINA STYAN
DARTMOUTH — Approximately 100 people attended a public forum held on Dec. 9 at Dartmouth High School on the proposed municipal wind turbine project being proposed for a site off Chase Road.
"Scheduled by town officials the forum is to give residents an opportunity to ask questions, to inform and clarify. It is not a debate," remarked Town Moderator Steven Sharek at the outset of the forum.
Alternative Energy Committee (AEC) Chairman Ronald DiPippo and consulting engineer and president of Atlantic Design Engineers LLC Simon Thomas presented a project overview for the audience, and addressed some resident concerns about shadow flicker, noise and fears of lowering homeowners' real estate values.
The turbines, to be located at 687 Chase Road, are estimated to cost $9.2 million; $2 million is already slated to come from renewable energy bonds authorized by the Internal Revenue Service at a one percent interest over 15 years, Dr. DiPippo indicated. The projected revenue data shows a positive cash flow for the town in the first year of operation, he noted.
Dr. DiPippo noted that the impact shadow flicker increases as you get closer to the turbine. On the town website,the AEC has posted a calendar graph for selected residences near the proposed site, displaying the number of hours each day that homes might be subjected to flicker.
Flicker is not a strobe effect, but rather a slow background process which lessens the farther away you go, he said.
The two 100-meter towers (referred to as the North and South Turbines) are buffered from neighbors by a radius of 960 feet and 860 feet respectively. Within the 860 feet radius there is only one residence, as compared to the Mass. Maritime wind turbine, which operates near several homes, a parking lot and playing fields, and campus buildings, he noted.
To monitor the noise levels, engineers used three microphones near the site to calculate the ambient noise. The data showed the proposed increased level are within the required limits, noted Dr. DiPippo.
In a study conducted by members of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on the financial impact of turbines on residential property values, Dr. DiPippo presented facts recorded in nine states at 24 wind turbine sites. None of the models uncovered conclusive evidence of widespread financial impact, he noted.
There were some words of opposition, however. Chase Road resident Jeanne Nesto, living only 860 feet from a turbine location, criticized the project because of health and safety problems associated with industrial-sized turbines.
She cited symptoms defined as "Wind Turbine Syndrome" that were causing medical problems for hundreds of families living within one mile of operating turbines sites.
David Costa, another Chase Road resident, complained that he never received a phone call or letter about the wind turbines proposed for the neighborhood. "It is a shame that for four years, no one was notified. Why weren't we notified in the beginning?" he questioned.
According to Select Board member Natalie Dias, the AEC was established in January 2004, and has been testing areas and measuring the wind ever since. "I am sorry you feel we ignored you, but the area was chosen not very long ago," she commented.
If the Select Board approves of the AEC and Department of Public Works application for special permits Monday, the next step will be securing funding approval at Special Town Meeting.
tentatively scheduled for January 26. If the permit is issued, the Select Board will be filing an article on the warrant asking for an appropriation for a bond to fund the turbine project.