I’ve watched all the turbine rhetoric lately from the sideline. Thankful Wind 1 is off, but still knowing, nothing is ever easy. I’ve tried to wrestle my initial ‘08 wind support with the potential and the likely wind prompted tax increases and I’ve even considered learning to adapt to headaches and less sleep.
One side of the community still continues to be in a state of disbelief that turbine affect could be so significant. The other side continues to send letters and storm town hall, claiming their quality of life has been destroyed by the turbines. And stuck in the middle, town boards and officials sort out and try to manage a compromise.
Maybe my past letters have over stepped bounds, focused too much on my headaches and my wife’s 3 hours of sleep a night. Maybe it shouldn’t be about me or my neighbors. Maybe it should be about what Falmouth believes to be the desirable character and quality of our community. Maybe it should be about people, and that we should promote our town as a good place to live and visit.
“Isn’t Falmouth Nice!”
That old and often used town motto implies that it all about the fabric of being a welcoming and inviting neighborly community. Many of us have asked about the neighbors when we looked to buy a home in Falmouth. Like the realtor’s mantra, and so appropriate to turbines, it’s all about “Location, Location, Location.”
The unexpected invasion of my rural property shouldn’t spell the end to wind development everywhere. It works at the Mass Military Reservation. Many turbines have been built where issues are minimal (i.e Texas, Iowa). All it takes is not building turbines quite so close to unwilling neighbors. And in our present case, all it would take is removing the intrusion so neighbors could one again invitingly echo those words “Isn’t Falmouth Nice!” It’s all about quality people. That’s what makes Falmouth nice.
The cost of relocation is certain to be a problem, whether you’re a wind turbine neighbor or not. It’s an unfortunate indictment of our community that so many important decisions are based primarily on the “what’s in it financially for me” theme. But the fact remains. The world is changing and money has become tight for families and municipalities. Has the definition of being neighborly changed too?
The two “selling points” in ’08 were the municipal wind project was to provide a good return on the investment in reduced town energy cost burdens. And it embraced the idealistic campaign to help stem adverse environmental impact (i.e. fossil fuel emissions, global warming etc.).
What has actually happened is that the turbine curtailment/mitigation has diminished anticipated energy cost savings, resulting in unexpected mitigation expenditures and loan debt burden never anticipated. And the action plan addressing adverse environmental impact has been impaired. All this, because of neighbors suffering documented, as well as science literature supported, adverse health affect and quality of life issues. In other words, no matter the ‘for or against’ side you’re on, the turbines have turned out to be bad neighbors.
The question, bigger than any neighbors or neighborhood, that must be weighed by by the reader, Selectmen and Town Meeting. “Is Falmouth really that nice” when residents and visitors are expected to barter basic levels of health and “quality of life” for idealistic and municipal finance goals. Is this Compromise worth our Community Character?