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Bourne vote on turbine guidelines stalls

BOURNE – The board of health delayed a vote Wednesday night on health-specific guidelines for land-based turbines.

The vote was rescheduled to July 13 to allow the public more time to comment on the proposal after some terms were more clearly defined in the board’s latest draft. If it passes in July, Bourne would be the first Cape town with health guidelines for land-based turbines.

Board chairwoman Kathy Peterson said after Wednesday’s meeting that certain definitions and terms were clarified in the latest draft. “They haven’t been changed,” she said. “They’ve been defined more closely.”

For example, in a previous draft, the meaning of the turbine’s height was not defined. Now, height means “the highest point reached at any time by any part” of the device.

Many Cape towns, including Bourne, already have bylaws regarding turbines. Bourne voted in May for stricter regulations that virtually eliminate the possibility of commercial-grade turbines in town.

The health regulations, drafted over the past year, deal with several concerns of Bourne residents and those in other towns, such as Falmouth, who have reported negative health effects from living near wind turbines.

Under the proposed guidelines, noise and shadow flicker created by turbines would be regulated by the board of health, which would issue a permit once the regulations were deemed met. The board would deny a permit if the turbine is “likely to have an adverse effect upon public health,” the regulations state.

Each wind turbine in a project must be permitted by the board, Peterson said at a board meeting last week.

The Cape Cod Commission has also provided guidelines for land-based turbines that include regulations for shadow flicker, noise and setback. Though the two sets of rules involve the same turbine effects, they are not mirror images.

For example, under Bourne’s proposed rules all turbines larger than 75 kilowatts must undergo a noise study; the commission requires one for turbines only of 660kw or greater.

The Bourne health rules would also require a “catastrophic failure analysis” to be done on the turbine.

In one instance, the commission’s guidelines are stricter: A defunct turbine in Bourne must be removed after a period of 365 days, if the new regulations pass. Commission guidelines require it to be taken down after 120 days of disuse.

The public can submit written comments to the board of health office through July 7.

Staff writer Robert Gold contributed to this report.