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Bourne health board adopts its turbine-review regulation

BUZZARDS BAY – The Bourne Board of Health on Wednesday night unanimously adopted its new turbine review regulation with no public discussion.

The regulation carries an enforcement provision recommended by Associate Town Counsel Brian Wall, who helped draft the ‘reg’ this year.

Health board concerns include turbine flicker and noise. Members said they approved the regulation based on citizen testimony and their opinion that other state and local laws “are inadequate to protect the citizens of Bourne from the unique health risks associated with wind energy conversion systems.”

“We tried to be fair and not curtail any citizen testimony,” health board chairman Kathy Peterson said. “We’ve had no discussion on this with the DEP (Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection). There have been no un-public meetings.

“Some people will think we’re not strict enough, other people will think we’re too strict,” she said.
But we’re confident these regulations will withstand scrutiny.”

Board members said they did not base their decision to accept the regulation on reports about science studies related to turbines that are posted across the Internet. Such studies were advanced by New Generation Wind turbine opponents and duly criticized by the wind-farm proponents.

“We tried to be fair,” board member Galon “Skip” Barlow said. “But even the New Generation engineer said nuisance could be an issue.”

Peterson said the new regulation allows for variances. But for now, turbine applications for structures in advance of 75 feet must be filed with the health board for review by Health Agent Cynthia Coffin; who is also charged with enforcement and follow-up when complaints are lodged about turbines.

New Generation principal Tudor Ingersoll of Buzzards Bay attended the health board session but did not comment. New Generation opponents also attended and did not comment. The board did not ask for public discussion prior to its 3-0 vote.

Members say the regulation will apply to the New Generation wind-farm proposal that remains in Cape Cod Commission review, should the regional agency approve the plan and send it to Bourne Planning Board review.

But New Generation supporters say the proposal was filed long before the board of health decided something should be done about reviewing turbines in Bourne.