March 22, 2011

Wind turbine decision lands in court

By Craig Salters, FALMOUTH BULLETIN, 22 March 2011

Six Falmouth residents are suing the town and its zoning board of appeals over the Wind 1 turbine at the Falmouth Wastewater Treatment Facility.
The six are appealing the Feb. 17 decision by the ZBA not to overturn the decision of Falmouth Building Commissioner Eladio Gore, who allowed the turbine as a municipal use and did not require a special permit for its construction.
The six plaintiffs are: Todd Drummey, Mark Cool, Brian Elder, Barry Funfar, Lawrence Worthington and Robert Laird. They are represented by attorney Christopher Senie, who filed the lawsuit March 21 in Barnstable Superior Court.
The lawsuit seeks to overturn the ZBA’s “Anderson decision” – referring to Neil and Elizabeth Andersen, who first appealed to the ZBA about Gore’s ruling – and subject the town-owned turbine to special permit review. It also asks that Wind 1 stop operation until that special permit process is complete.
The lawsuit names as defendants the town, the ZBA and the individual zoning board members. To satisfy legal requirements, it also names the Andersens as defendants because none of the plaintiffs were part of the original appeal.
According to the lawsuit, all of the plaintiffs live between 1,300 and 3,200 feet from Wind 1 at the Blacksmith Shop Road facility.
Nearly 400 feet in height, the 1.65-megawatt turbine has been operational for more than a year. During that time, many residents have said the “thumping” noise from the turbine is the cause of lack of sleep and headaches.
“My health is declining,” resident John Ford told selectmen during a heated discussion of the turbine at the board’s Feb. 28 meeting. “I’m doing anything I can to live with this nightmare.”
At that meeting, selectmen decided to stop the turbine when wind speeds exceed 10 meters per second and to continue that policy until a permanent solution is reached. They have kept that policy despite the fact that more idle turbine hours mean less energy generated for town use.
On Feb. 17 the ZBA voted 3-1 to overturn the building commissioner’s decision. However, a unanimous vote was required and the Andersens’ appeal was denied.
The ZBA’s decision was formally filed March 3.

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