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Documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are provided to assist anyone wishing to research the issue of industrial wind power and the impacts of its development. The information should be evaluated by each reader to come to their own conclusions about the many areas of debate.


Date added:  February 27, 2015
Law, MassachusettsPrint storyE-mail story

Drummey et al. vs. Falmouth et al. – appeals court order

Author:  Cypher, Elsbeth

We are asked to decide in this case whether the town of Falmouth (town) was required to obtain a special permit from the zoning board of appeals of Falmouth (ZBA) for the installation of a wind turbine on town land. We conclude that, under the town’s zoning by-law (by-law), a special permit was required.

Background. The plaintiffs are Falmouth residents who live between 1,300 and 3,200 feet from a wind turbine known as “Wind 1,” installed in 2009 on town land at its wastewater treatment facility (WWTF). Alleging significant distress from sound pressures and noise from the operation of Wind 1, Neil Andersen and Elizabeth Andersen (collectively, the Andersen plaintiffs), on August 25, 2010, sought an enforcement action by the town’s building commissioner asserting that the town was in violation of the by-law by operating Wind 1 without a special permit. The building commissioner denied their request in a letter dated September 24, 2010, and the Andersen plaintiffs appealed to the ZBA, which affirmed the building commissioner in a decision dated March 3, 2011. Separate actions for relief under G. L. c. 40A, § 17, were filed in the Superior Court by the Andersen plaintiffs and by the remaining plaintiffs. After consolidation of the cases below, and a bench trial, a judge on June 18, 2013, ordered that judgments enter affirming the decision of the ZBA.

Discussion. At trial, the plaintiffs argued that the building commissioner and the ZBA incorrectly interpreted the by-law to allow the issuance of a building permit for Wind 1 without a special permit, citing § 240-166 of the by-law which provides that a petitioner may apply for a special permit to allow construction of a windmill. The judge, however, deferred to the opinion of the building commissioner, affirmed by the ZBA, that the by-law “does not apply in the limited circumstance where the Town itself desires to construct and operate a windmill for municipal purposes in a district where all such purposes are permitted as of right.”

Interpretation of the town’s by-law raises a question of law. Goldlust v. Board of Appeals of N. Andover, 27 Mass. App. Ct. 1183, 1184 (1989). We “review the judge’s determinations of law, including interpretations of zoning bylaws, de novo.” Shirley Wayside Ltd. Partnership v. Board of Appeals of Shirley, 461 Mass. 469, 475 (2012). The judge and the ZBA affirmed the building commissioner’s decision without modification; therefore we examine that decision to determine whether the building commissioner’s interpretation of the by-law was correct.

In reaching his decision that a special permit was not required, the building commissioner determined that Wind 1 is a “municipal purpose[]” that falls within the enumerated community service uses permitted as of right in § 240-30B of the by-law, which includes: “All municipal purposes, including the administration of government, parks, playgrounds, recreation buildings, Town forests, watershed, water towers and reservoirs, beaches, fire and police stations and armories.” We think that this interpretation of the by-law to include Wind 1 as a permitted community service use was error.

As in other districts of the by-law, windmills are specifically designated in the public use district as an accessory use by special permit. Therefore it logically follows that windmills could not have been intended to fall within the more general municipal purpose as of right within § 240-30B of the by-law. See Miles-Matthias v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Seekonk, 84 Mass. App. Ct. 778, 789 (2014) (canon of construction “inclusio unius est exclusio alterius” provides that “statutory expression of one thing is an implied exclusion of other things omitted from the statute”), quoting from Harborview Residents’ Comm., Inc. v. Quincy Hous. Authy., 368 Mass. 425, 432 (1975). Furthermore, § 240-18 of the by-law states that where an activity might be classified under more than one of the within uses, “the more specific classification shall govern; if equally specific, the more restrictive shall govern. Uses not classifiable under any category listed for the applicable district are prohibited, except that a use listed nowhere in Articles V through XIII may be allowed on special permit if the Board of Appeals determines that it closely resembles in its neighborhood impacts a use allowed or allowed on special permit in that district.” Furthermore, § 240-17 of the by-law states: “No building or structure shall be erected, altered or extended and no premises shall be used, except as provided in Articles V through XIII, [the] district use regulations.”

The judge noted in upholding the building commissioner that the list of municipal purposes in § 240-30B of the by-law was illustrative and not limiting. While that is an accurate characterization of the list, it does not adequately consider the weight that must be given a specific by-law provision that has been drafted to take into account the public welfare. The classification of windmills as a permitted municipal purpose fails to consider § 240-33G(5), which is part of a comprehensive scheme to include wind turbines in the by-law and control their placement and impact in the town. We are not to look at provisions of a by-law in isolation; we must read them contextually. Livoli v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Southborough, 42 Mass. App. Ct. 921, 922 (1997). Windmills were added as art. XXXIV of the by-law by an amendment authorized by a vote of the town meeting on September 10, 1981. The public use district, identified as art. VII, was amended to include windmills as a special permit use in § 240-33G(5) of the by-law, and the ZBA is the permit-granting authority.

Because the by-law does not contain any exemption for the town from its provisions, contrast Sinn v. Selectmen of Acton, 357 Mass 606, 608 (1970), it is apparent that the decisions of the ZBA and the Superior Court judge, which relied on an incorrect interpretations of the by-law, are not entitled to deference. See Mauri v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Newton, 83 Mass. App. Ct. 336, 342 (2013), and cases cited. And we conclude that those decisions are based on “a legally untenable ground, [are] unreasonable, . . . [and are] arbitrary.” MacGibbon v. Board of Appeals of Duxbury, 356 Mass. 635, 639 (1970).

The plaintiffs also assert that the town failed to obey the use permit requirements in § 240-166D of the by-law. The requirements of § 240-166D […] pertain to considerations of potential impacts on neighbors as well as safety in the operation of windmills, and it appears that many of the requirements are specific to wind turbines and are not found in local or Massachusetts building codes. The building commissioner testified that he issued a conventional use and occupancy permit and did not assert that such a permit indicated compliance with the requirements of § 240-166D. Compliance with those requirements must be made in the course of an application for a special permit.

Conclusion. For the reasons given, we vacate the June 18, 2013, judgments of the Superior Court. The matter is remanded to the Superior Court, where new judgments shall enter consistent with this opinion.

So ordered.

Download original document: “TODD DRUMMEY & others vs. TOWN OF FALMOUTH & others”

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Date added:  February 26, 2015
Health, New Zealand, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Statement of Evidence on behalf of Glenmark Community Against Wind Turbines

Author:  Shepherd, Daniel

I have been invited by Glenmark Community Against Wind Turbines, Inc to provide an evaluation of the impact of turbine noise on health and well-being. …

Relatively, wind turbines are a new source of community noise, and as such their effects on public health are only beginning to emerge in the literature. The recognition of a new disease, disorder, or threat to health usually follows a set pathway. First, doctors and practitioners attempt to fit symptoms into pre-defined diagnostic categories or to classify the complaints as psychosomatic. Second, as evidence accumulates, case studies begin to appear in the literature, and exploratory research is undertaken to obtain better descriptions of the symptoms/complaints. Third, intensive research is undertaken examining the distribution and prevalence of those reporting symptoms, the factors correlating with the distribution and prevalence of those symptoms, and ultimately to cause-and-effect explanations of why those reporting symptoms may be doing so.

In my reading of the literature the health effects of wind turbines are only beginning to be elucidated, and [are] caught somewhere between the first and second stages described above (Paragraph 1.8). The important point to note is that case studies (e.g., Harry, 2007; Pierpont, 2009) and correlational studies (e.g., Pedersen et al., 2007; van den berg, 2008; Shepherd et al., 2011) have already emerged in relation to the health effects of wind turbine noise, and so the possibility of detrimental health effects due to wind turbine noise must be taken with utmost seriousness.

Noise is a recognised environmental pollutant that degrades sleep, quality of life and general function (WHO, 1999, 2009; 2011). On the basis of data currently available in peer-reviewed scientific publications, it can only be concluded that industrial-scale wind energy generation, involving the saturation of an optimum number of wind turbines in a fixed area, is not without health impact for those residing in its proximity. Based on my experience of wind turbine noise, and my reading of the data available in the scientific literature, I recommend that all turbines displaced at least two kilometres (or more) from any dwelling be consented. …

30 April 2012

Download original document: “Statement of Evidence in Chief of Daniel Shepherd on behalf of Glenmark Community Against Wind Turbine”s

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Date added:  February 25, 2015
EnvironmentPrint storyE-mail story

Wind energy: Increasing deployment, rising environmental concerns

Author:  Tabassum-Abbasi; Premalatha, M.; Abbasi, Tasneem; and Abbasi, S.A.

Of all the renewable energy sources (RESs) ― except direct solar heat and light ― wind energy is believed to have the least adverse environmental impacts. It is also one of the RES which has become economically affordable much before several other RESs have. As a result, next to biomass (and excluding large hydro), wind energy is the RES being most extensively tapped by the world at present. Despite carrying the drawback of intermittency, wind energy has found favor due to its perceived twin virtues of relatively lesser production cost and environment-friendliness.

But with increasing use of turbines for harnessing wind energy, the adverse environmental impacts of this RES are increasingly coming to light. The present paper summarizes the current understanding of these impacts and assesses the challenges they are posing. One among the major hurdles has been the NIMBY (not in my backyard) syndrome due to which there is increasing emphasis on installing windfarms several kilometers offshore. But such moves have serious implications for marine life which is already under great stress due to impacts of overfishing, marine pollution, global warming, ozone hole and ocean acidification. Evidence is also emerging that the adverse impacts of wind power plants on wildlife, especially birds and bats, are likely to be much greater than is reflected in the hitherto reported figures of individuals killed per turbine. Likewise recent findings on the impact of noise and flicker generated by the wind turbines indicate that these can have traumatic impacts on individuals who have certain predispositions. But the greatest of emerging concerns is the likely impact of large wind farms on the weather, and possibly the climate. The prospects of wind energy are discussed in the backdrop of these and other rising environmental concerns.

Tabassum-Abbasi, M. Premalatha, Tasneem Abbasi, and S.A. Abbasi
Center for Pollution Control and Environmental Engineering, Pondicherry University, Puducherry, India

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 31 (2014) 270–288
doi: 10.1016/j.rser.2013.11.019

Download original document: “Wind energy: Increasing deployment, rising environmental concerns”

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Date added:  February 24, 2015
Environment, IowaPrint storyE-mail story

Satellite Observations of Wind Farm Impacts on Nocturnal Land Surface Temperature in Iowa

Author:  Harris, Ronald; Zhou, Liming; and Xia, Geng

Abstract: Wind farms (WFs) are believed to have an impact on lower boundary layer meteorology. A recent study examined satellite-measured land surface temperature data (LST) and found a local nighttime warming effect attributable to a group of four large WFs in Texas. This study furthers their work by investigating the impacts of five individual WFs in Iowa, where the land surface properties and climate conditions are different from those in Texas. Two methods are used to assess WF impacts: first, compare the spatial coupling between the LST changes (after turbine construction versus before) and the geographic layouts of the WFs; second, quantify the LST difference between the WFs and their immediate surroundings (non-WF areas). Each WF shows an irrefutable nighttime warming signal relative to the surrounding areas after their turbines were installed, and these warming signals are generally coupled with the geographic layouts of the wind turbines, especially in summer. This study provides further observational evidence that WFs can cause surface warming at nighttime, and that such a signal can be detected by satellite-based sensors.

Ronald A. Harris, Liming Zhou, and Geng Xia
Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, State University of New York, Albany, N.Y.

Remote Sensing 2014, 6, 12234-12246; doi:10.3390/rs61212234

Download original document: “Satellite Observations of Wind Farm Impacts on Nocturnal Land Surface Temperature in Iowa”

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