FALMOUTH – In an unexpected late-night move yesterday, selectmen unanimously voted to turn off the town’s wind turbine when winds are greater than 23 mph.
The matter of the 1.65-megawatt turbine, known as Wind I, was not even on the board’s agenda yesterday. But after listening to passionate pleas from a handful of residents who said their lives are negatively impacted by the turbine, selectmen approved the reprieve.
“We’ve been looking for any bit of relief, so this helped a lot,” said Neil Andersen, who lives less than 1,500 feet from Wind I.
But the board’s vote goes against the advice of Frank Duffy, the town’s attorney, according to Acting Town Manager Heather Harper.
The Zoning Board of Appeals recently voted to uphold Building Commissioner Eladio Gore’s decision to exempt Wind I from the special permitting process. But Harper said the vote is not final until after the 20-day appeal has ended.
Harper urged selectmen to postpone any discussion of the turbine until April.
“Town counsel asked that there be no discussion, and we’ve already not honored that request this evening,” Harper said.
But Selectman David Braga, speaking publicly on the issue for the first time, said he personally visited some of the affected homes in the middle of the night in October and was alarmed at the noise level.
He described the noise as “a washing machine whooshing noise” and “like someone put a sneaker in a dryer.”
“I wish I had said something sooner and I’m sorry,” Braga said Monday. “But something needs to be done for these people, and the sooner the better please.”