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Wind Turbines at Town Center Could Pose Zoning Issue

The location of the proposed wind turbines has moved to a less obvious place, but now zoning appears to be an issue.

Wind turbines at Wayland Town Center were again up for discussion at a Planning Board public hearing Tuesday night.

Representatives from Stop & Shop, which wants to erect the turbines as part of its efforts to achieve LEED certification, have made a significant change to their on March 27.

That change? The location. Stop & Shop officials originally wanted to build the turbines along a ridge of grassy land abutting the neighboring properties, but comments from the public and Wayland officials led to reconsideration.

Stop & Shop moved the six turbines into the grocery store parking lot where they would be “dual-purpose poles” supporting both the wind turbine and lighting for the parking lot. Moving the turbine into the parking lot does not mean more light poles, only re-purposed poles, explained David Campbell, the architect working on the project.

Moving the poles into the parking lot seemed to appease some of the concerns expressed at the March hearing, but now there are concerns that Wayland’s zoning bylaw does not actually allow for the wind turbines at Town Center at all.

Town Planner Sarkis Sarkisian explained that Wayland’s zoning bylaw applicable to the Town Center property neither approves nor prohibits wind turbines specifically; however, the zoning bylaw language indicates that anything not specifically approved should be considered prohibited.

With that in mind, Sarkisian said the Planning Board could offer a conditional approval that would require an eventual zoning bylaw change in order for the approval to become permanent; consider approving construction of the turbines in another location, such as the Wayland Transfer Station, which would also require a bylaw change; or work with NSTAR to build the turbines within the utility right-of-way, which would not require a bylaw change.

In any case, Sarkisian recommended that the Planning Board be “pro-active” about a zoning change.

“We do need a zoning change,” Sarkisian said. “The future’s coming that someday somebody is going to want to put this in their backyard. We need to be fair, open-minded about alternative energy. You have to start somewhere.”

Planning Board member Kevin Murphy said he approved of the idea of wind turbines, but was concerned that they would detract from the “New England village feel” expected at Town Center. He recommended installing the turbines somewhere else, such as the transfer station, to allow Wayland residents an opportunity to “get used to them.”

Several audience members spoke up to say they appreciated the effort behind constructing the turbines, but wondered whether Town Center was the appropriate location.

Tom Sciacca, a Wayland resident, said the turbines would primarily be marketing items for Stop & Shop, and, while he appreciated the difficultly of getting a new technology in front of the public, he did not believe the benefits out-weighed the concerns in this case.

“When you look at the value of the project and balance it against concerns … it’s equivalent to hanging big signs in the parking that ‘We are green,’” Sciacca said. “The pro here is that these devices are highly visible. The con, possibly, is that they are highly visible.”

But resident Kathleen Freeman disagreed with Sciacca’s assessment.

“I applaud the town of Way for their Green Community status and Green Community initiatives, but I also applaud Stop & Shop for offering this,” Freeman said.

In the end, Planning Board members declined to make a decision Tuesday and will reopen the public hearing during their June 19 meeting. The construction schedule for Stop & Shop demands that a decision be made sooner rather than later.

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