Freeholders vote to oppose wind turbine

Resolution calls for more study of proposal for Union Beach


The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously passed a resolution opposing construction of a 380-foot-tall industrial wind turbine on the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority’s (BRSA) 24-acre wastewater treatment facility in Union Beach on July 8.

The board decided to draft a resolution against the proposed 1.5-megawatt turbine — which would be located 1,080 feet from a residential neighborhood — after listening to concerns from residents at a meeting in Keyport on June 24.

According to the resolution, the residents and governing body of the borough of Union Beach as well as neighboring Bayshore communities strongly oppose the turbine for many reasons, including health and safety concerns, lack of protection for community roads and infrastructure, and diminished property values.

“It is 38 stories that this turbine would occupy there,” said Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry. “It was brought to the freeholders’ attention in a very profound fashion at our last meeting by residents of Keyport, Hazlet and Union Beach, and we reacted.

“We reacted perhaps a little after the fact, and I hope somehow we can correct that problem. By after the fact, I mean the [N.J. Department of Environmental Protection] has already issued a permit for this [project], but it is something we need to truly look at very seriously because it is going to impact our residents here in Monmouth County.”

The proposed turbine, scheduled to receive funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), will consist of a 240-foot-tall concrete pedestal for the turbine, which would have 118-foot-long blades.

When placed on the pedestal, the entire installation will stand 380 feet high, taller than the Statue of Liberty, the Keyport Water Tower and the historic Twin Lights in Highlands, according to, a website created by Union Beach resident Bill Heller and supported by opponents of the plan.

The BRSA received conditional approval from the DEP for the turbine in January and is expected to receive final approval to erect the turbine on the plant’s 24-acre site once two pre-construction bird- and bat-impact studies are completed by the end of the year, according to a previous statement by Robert Fischer, executive director of BRSA.

The resolution states that Monmouth County shares the concerns expressed by the residents and governing body of Union Beach in what the freeholders describe as a “limited effort to reach out to the residents of the Bayshore and a lack of transparency on part of the wind power industry.”

Freeholder John D’Amico said the board as a whole is not against wind power, but is opposed to the particular location and scale of the Union Beach turbine.

“I want to clarify that although this resolution opposes this turbine in a residential area, this does not mean the Board of Freeholders opposes the development of wind power,” D’Amico said. “It is a question of appropriate size and appropriate location.”

Freeholder Robert Clifton seconded D’Amico’s comments and voted in favor of the resolution. According to the resolution, the freeholders are now urging the BRSA and the wind power industry to immediately cease all efforts relating to the construction of the wind turbine and address the concerns raised by the community.


urry said the county sent a letter

about the turbine issue to Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno for review. A copy of the resolution was also sent to the BRSA, all state legislators representing the Bayshore area and Gov. Chris Christie’s office.

“We are hopeful we are drawing attention to what I would consider not a terribly welcome project,” Burry said.

The freeholders are also calling for further public health and safety studies to be conducted before construction can go forward.

Since the turbine was granted preliminary approval in October, members of the Hazlet Area Quality of Life Alliance (HAQLA), a nonprofit environmental organization, have been advocating for more scientific and environmental studies about on-shore turbines and their effect on residents and wildlife.

John Curran III, president of HAQLA, thanked the freeholders for the resolution and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R- 13th District) for opening up a dialogue with the members of the public and representatives of the DEP.

“It was very brave,” Curran said. “You saw something and you questioned it, and this is really what we [HAQLA] are looking for. We hope that the state takes a look now and turns a light on to the potential negative impact of industrial turbines in densely populated areas.”

Curran said HAQLA is not against wind energy, but members believe there must be “responsible regulatory controls” when considering the size of the turbine, population density and proximity to homes.

“I think everyone is caught by surprise with this in New Jersey,” Curran said. “It seems to me that the lawmakers, the communities and the public don’t know what they are dealing with here. It has a ‘green’ label, so everybody wants to jump right into it with their eyes closed. We are hoping that your actions will open the eyes of those who can bring responsibility to the industry. I am wondering where we will go from here.”

Charles Hoffman, a Hazlet resident and HAQLA member, compared the proposed 380-foot BRSA turbine to the 145-foot Ocean Gate wind turbine in Ocean County. The Ocean Gate turbine generates 50 kilowatts of power, where the Union Beach turbine is estimated to generate 3.5 million kilowatt hours a year, about half of the BRSA’s energy usage.

“They [Ocean Gate residents] have been badly affected by the wind turbine that was bought by their own community,” Hoffman said. “Possibly a smaller one in Union Beach may be the answer, but putting them inside the community, even a small one like in Ocean Gate, is not the answer.”

Other concerns include noise and the flicker effect caused by shadowing by the turbine’s blades.

Fischer previously explained that homes on Dock Street in Union Beach could be affected by shadowing. If the flicker of the blades bothers residents, the authority would shut down the turbine for 40 minutes during sunset.

According to BRSA, the noise from the turbine would be one decibel higher than the noise level the sewerage authority already generates, which is approximately 38 decibels in the daytime.

Several residents opposed to the plan said they are concerned about low-frequency noise emitted from the turbine, which they say can cause sensory disorders.

“It is a multi-faceted issue,” said Heller. “I go around and talk to people, hand out fliers, and most of the town was not all that aware of this until recently. It will affect property values, there are health dangers, there are noise dangers … it’s going to ruin the whole vista of our Bayshore area.”

Fischer previously stated that the sewage plant property is surrounded on three sides by wetlands, and loose, watery soil allows frequencies to be absorbed into the ground more easily than dense soil would; he described the wet soil as “like a sponge.”

Existing infrastructure on the site’s 24 acres will also absorb frequencies, blocking the neighborhood from any vibration, he has said.

With the freeholder resolution in place, residents are calling for a moratorium from the state until further studies are considered. The turbine is scheduled for a January 2011 construction date.

“We’ve been fighting the fight kind of alone, so I think this really helps us,” said Union Beach resident Marco Oldhafer.

“You’re not alone anymore,” Burry responded.

The next public meeting of the BRSA will take place on July 19 at 7 p.m. at 100 Oak St., Union Beach.