FALMOUTH – No new wind turbines will be built in Falmouth for at least one year.
Monday’s annual town meeting overwhelmingly approved a one-year moratorium on constructing wind turbines in town. The measure, which was backed by the planning board, is to provide town officials ample time to study noise, vibration and shadow flicker issues that may affect those living near turbines.
Wind I, the town’s 1.65-megawatt turbine off Blacksmith Shop Road, has been a lightning rod for controversy since it was erected last year.
Neighbors have complained of adverse health effects caused by the nearly 400-foot-tall structure, and a handful of neighbors are currently suing the town over its operation.
But while neighbors have made quite a bit of noise at public meetings regarding the turbine, there was very little debate Monday night regarding the moratorium.
Selectman Mary “Pat” Flynn told voters the Cape Cod Commission has submitted potential turbine siting regulations to the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates, and hearings will begin later this month.
Kathleen Driscoll, a town meeting member, asked if any other type of moratorium had ever been proposed in the past.
A ban on curb cuts along Route 151 was approved in the 1980s, according to Town Planner Brian Currie, and a ban on certain business permits was approved in 1992.
The article easily exceeded the necessary two-thirds vote for approval, with only a smattering of people voting no.
Turning to financial matters, several debt exclusion tax overrides are on the warrant, but voters got to only one of them before adjourning just before 11 p.m.
Voters approved a $361,530 capital debt exclusion last night to buy five police cruisers for $206,000, $15,000 to replace the North Falmouth Fire Station roof, $80,000 for the Gus Canty Center roof and $60,000 for a septic replacement system at Old Silver Beach. The debt exclusion must be approved at the ballot box in May.
Selectmen tried to add $70,000 for the design of a new bathhouse at Surf Drive beach, but that amendment was rejected by voters due to current financial constraints.
Voters also approved the town’s $108.8 million operating budget, which saw an increase of $1.5 million over last year.
Despite the increased budget, times are still tough. Acting Town Manager Heather Harper said while town employees escape furlough days – of which there were five last year – a handful of positions have been eliminated or reduced through departmental reorganization.
Town meeting members seemed less interested in the big-ticket expenditures in the budget, focusing instead on smaller line items such as the substance abuse commission and youth sports. Some members tried repeatedly to add money to these programs, which were cut, by transferring funds from the police department and town manager travel expense accounts. All the requests were rejected.
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