07/24/2009

Final Permits Sought for Port's Wind Turbine

 

Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Katie Farrell, The Daily News of Newburyport, Mass.

July 24, 2009

Jul. 24--NEWBURYPORT -- Though it looms 292 feet above the city and its gigantic blades have been whirling for months, the controversial wind turbine in the city's industrial park still needs to get its final permits.

The owner -- Mark Richey -- still has several months before the deadline on those permits arrives, but in the meantime several of the issues that neighbors have complained about, such as noise and the "flicker" effect, will be looked into.

Building Commissioner Gary Calderwood said yesterday he will be checking in with the project manager for the turbine installation on Richey's property, after sending a letter seeking documents needed for the final inspection.

Calderwood sent Jonathan Markey, of Meridian Associates in Beverly, a notice in early June saying the two need to coordinate a final inspection during which Calderwood anticipates climbing to the top of the turbine. Before the inspection can be done, the project must receive a certificate of compliance from the Conservation Commission and Markey must provide the city with a letter of "substantial completion" with affidavits and inspectional field reports, including affidavits showing the effect of flicker on the neighborhood, Calderwood wrote.

"As a special request due to neighborhood complaints," Calderwood wrote in the June 3 letter, "I request a noise measurement and flicker analysis as far away as 5-9 Bricher Street."

Once the city receives the documents, a meeting will be required before the turbine is issued.

Calderwood said yesterday he hasn't heard yet from Markey, but he said some of the neighbors have asked about the tests for noise and flicker being done in the fall when the leaves are off the trees. "Flicker" is a visual effect caused by the whirling blades, similar to a strobe light.

Until the Conservation Commission issues its compliance certificate, he can't sign off on the project, Calderwood said.

Conservation Administrator Mary Reilly said yesterday that Richey needs to file a request for the certificate, at which point she will do an inspection to make sure the orders of conditions issued by the board were met. The commission will then hold a hearing and take a vote on issuing the certificate.

The order of conditions regulates how the project must be completed without adverse impact on the wetlands.

Richey is not in any violation, Reilly said, noting that he has three years to get the certificate before the order of conditions expire.

Richey confirmed yesterday that he does have a temporary permit and is waiting for the final version.

Richey put up the 292-feet-tall turbine on his woodworking plant property in the industrial park in January. The structure has drawn criticism from abutters who say its flicker and noise are negatively impacting the neighborhood.

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Copyright (c) 2009, The Daily News of Newburyport, Mass.

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