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BARNSTABLE – The Cape Cod Commission has proposed rules that will prohibit construction of any more large wind turbines on most of Cape Cod.
The regulations, which are the subject of a public hearing that will continue on Feb. 3, would require a 3,000-foot buffer between a land-based wind turbine and the nearest residential lot. The so-called setback rule is designed to protect property owners from turbine noise and would apply to turbines that generate one or more megawatts of electricity.
Existing Cape turbines of that size include the two 1.65 megawatt turbines at the Falmouth Wastewater Treatment Facility. The setback rule would not apply to smaller windmills such as the 660-kilowatt turbine at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay.
The Cape Cod Commission is a county land use and planning agency.
Many people who live near the turbines at the Falmouth wastewater facility attended the first day of the regulation hearing on Thursday. The residents – including Neil Anderson who lives about 1,300 feet from one of the turbines – complained about health problems such as ringing of the ears, headaches, dizziness and vertigo.
They also raised several quality of life issues.
Malcolm Donald, a neighbor of the Falmouth turbine, said he gets so much flicker effect on a sunny morning that his home resembles a disco. “When I’m selling my house, should I suggest (to the potential buyer) that he play ‘Dancing Queen’ in the morning to make the flicker more tolerable,” Donald said.
Christopher Senie, an attorney representing about 18 neighbors of the Falmouth turbines, said he approves of the proposed regulations.
“It’s a remarkable improvement,” he told the commissioners Thursday.
But several wind power proponents called the proposed rules a de facto prohibition of industrial-scale turbines on the Cape and Islands.
Paul Niedzwieki, Cape Cod Commission executive director, said the county planning agency is seeking to limit construction of large wind turbines in the region. He said the Massachusetts Military Reservation is one of the only areas on Cape Cod that is suitable for big wind turbines.
But he said the Cape Cod Commission favors construction of smaller turbines.
In addition to the proposed setback rule, the commission’s proposed regulations for land-base turbines include the following: commission review of any turbine taller than 65 feet, requiring developers to study and mitigate a turbine’s likely flicker effect, and requiring a decommission plan.
The Feb. 3 public hearing will be held at 3 p.m. in the Barnstable First District Courthouse.
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