There will be another wind turbine in Falmouth.
Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals agreed to permit the J.K. Scanlan Company application to build a new wind turbine in Falmouth Technology Park last night after the applicant addressed concerns about the turbine fall zone, ice throw and light flicker effect.
J.K. Scanlan will build a 179-foot-tall turbine off Research Road. It will be 240 feet from the nearest building, other than the Scanlan building, and 1,310 feet from the nearest residence on Thomas B. Landers Road.
“We know a lot more about wind turbines than we did a year ago,” said Robert H. Ament, attorney for J.K. Scanlan, in his argument preceding the unanimous vote by the board.
“A year ago, I think we all thought that wind turbines were essentially good and today there’s an awful lot of negativity related to wind turbines.”
The turbine will be located in the only light industrial B-zoned land in Falmouth, “where Town Meeting said we should put these things,” Mr. Ament said.
The backlash to the town-owned wind turbine at the wastewater treatment plant off Blacksmith Shop Road, and the Notus Clean Energy turbine, also in Falmouth Technology Park, should not alter the board’s opinion of the J.K. Scanlan turbine, he said.
“Would we approve such large turbines today?” Mr. Ament asked. “That is not the question in front of the board of appeals today.”
The top of the Scanlan turbine will be 265 feet lower than the Notus turbine and the town turbines.
“Not all wind turbines are bad,” Mr. Ament said.
At the previous hearing board members raised serious concerns about the turbine fall zone, which extends over the J.K. Scanlan property line, and discussed denying the application.
Board members were particularly concerned that the turbine would land on other properties on Research Road, including an access road, which might be needed in an emergency.
To address the issues of the fall zone, J.K. Scanlan reached an agreement with the neighbor to grant a permanent easement for the fall zone in exchange for some of the power created by the turbine. If the turbine were to fall on the access road, Mr. Ament said, J.K. Scanlan has the equipment to move it quickly.
The board also had concerns about ice throw. Project manager Greg W. Inman said there will be redundant systems ensuring the alignment of the machine, and the turbine will be shut down immediately if the blades go out of alignment.
Mr. Ament also said the turbine will be shut down whenever icy conditions occur.
Board member Patricia Favulli asked if there will be signs warning people to watch for falling ice at the turbine, which will not be fenced in. Mr. Inman said J.K. Scanlan would install a sign.
At the previous hearing, the board heard testimony about light flicker effect. The Scanlan turbine will create a light flicker effect on two residences, Mr. Ament said.
He said one residence will experience the flicker effect for a total of two hours and 50 minutes in an entire year, and the second house would experience the flicker effect for less than two hours in a year.
Mr. Ament said the light flicker effect from the Scanlan turbine would occur for seven weeks in the winter for a few minutes each day.
Last night, Mr. Ament said if either of those two neighbors complain, J.K. Scanlan will shut down the turbine.
Final approval expected Thursday
When it came time for discussion, board members were unanimously in support of the application.
“I think in many ways the timing of this application came at an awkward time,” said Chairman Matthew J. McNamara.
Vice Chairman Dennis D. Murphy said he thought the project could be permitted because it was far enough away from residential housing.
Ms. Favulli said she thought the applicant listened to concerns and answered all of the board’s questions. “I think this is a viable project,” she said.
Abutters of the town-owned wind turbines were in attendance, but did not offer any new testimony. Todd A. Drummey of Blacksmith Shop Road asked the board if abutters could submit suggestions for conditions to the file, but Mr. McNamara said their testimony was in the record and would be considered in the decision.
The board voted to direct zoning administrator Sari D. Budrow to draft a positive motion for the turbine with conditions and findings related to the fall zone, ice throw, and light flicker effect, along with a procedure for complaints about noise created by the turbine.
Mr. Ament urged the board to vote the conditions last night, so the turbine will not be subject to new regulations passed by the Cape Cod Commission. “The timing is really critical,” Mr. Ament said.
The J.K. Scanlan turbine does not meet all the conditions of the new commission regulations, he said, in particular that the turbine fall zone should be totally clear of buildings. The J.K. Scanlan building is within the fall zone of the turbine, which is allowed under Falmouth regulations.
But Mr. McNamara said he could not finalize the vote for the project because there were too many conditions.
The board will vote the decision at its meeting next Thursday.
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