August 23, 2011
Letters, Massachusetts

Will wind turbines hurt the Falmouth experience?

Falmouth Patch, 22 August 2011

Tonight at 7 p.m. is the joint Falmouth Selectmen – Planning board meeting. How will determinations be framed when accounting for the rights of citizens and the benefit of wind energy? Which will hold precedence against the lines of the preamble of our State Constitution? “ … to furnish the individuals … with the power of enjoying in safety and tranquility their natural rights, and the blessings of life.”

Falmouth’s wind energy program is a capital project. It has a fixed lifespan and depreciates over time. Not considered to date, is how Falmouth plans to pay community and neighborhood dividends in perpetuity. More to the point, will neighbors of Blacksmith Shop Road be forced to live a diminished quality of life?

Selectmen are examining mitigative options. Will they consult state guidance under M.G.L. chapter 111, section 31C serving to prevent: Nuisance to members of the town; Danger to the public health of the town; or Detriment to public comfort in the town?
Some options being considered are: reject any notion of harm being perpetrated. Why? Selectmen know harm exists, imposed by at least Wind 1. If not, then why the board’s 22 mph restriction employed in February? How is it that harm can be relegated by whether a municipal turbine or private? Doesn’t it stands to reason that Wind 1’s twin, the Notus Clean Energy (Webb) turbine, with all variables the same, imposes the same pain to neighbors further down the road?

The Planning Board examines consensus building as a mechanism to revise the current antiquated wind mill by-law. Is the board’s search for a consensus going to reduce the percentage of safety and tranquility of natural rights? Will a consensus marginalize the blessings of life neighbors expect, and are entitled?

Noise impact (audible and vibratory), as a fundamental principle of land use management is mitigated with distance. What was initially thought as suitable setbacks by most, is now far from meeting the Cape Cod Commission regulatory standard.

The ‘Falmouth Experience’ with wind cannot continue to discern the truth of harm by filtering its clarity with enticements of energy savings or CO2 reduction – (farce). Evidenced by the June and July “Wind Information” Selectmen meetings, they show that there are risks and uncertainties associated with wind turbines that merit further research. The state itself is conducting a re-appraisal of community health effects from turbines.

The outcome this meeting should acutely focus upon the most appropriate public standard. Rather than the ‘yes or no’ arguments about whether turbines can cause harm, the standard by which the mitigative options and consensus building efforts should be judged, cannot be pitched against energy revenues or savings. Public service, first and foremost, mandates affording public safety and welfare protection.

Mark J. Cool
Fire Tower Road

Mark J. Cool is a Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controller, with 31 years of service, who lives in Falmouth.

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