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Falmouth planners pursue bylaw on turbines  

Credit:  By Sean Teehan, Cape Cod Times, www.capecodonline.com 30 August 2011 ~~

FALMOUTH – While Falmouth selectmen have been pondering a recent study of how to mitigate harm to residents from existing wind turbines, the planning board tonight will again consider a bylaw for future wind projects.

A town consultant recently surveyed residents, developers and other stakeholders to gauge their interest in participating in a study of their opinions regarding the language that should appear in the bylaw.

Planning board members expect to rehash the idea during their meeting at 7 p.m. tonight.

While a bylaw may further restrict where developers can build turbines in Falmouth, selectmen and planning board members are not yet sure of what exactly it would say.

At a joint meeting of the selectmen and planning board on Aug. 22, Edith M. Netter, a law and mediation consultant, told town officials she found most people she approached wanted their voices heard.

“There’s a fair amount of common ground,” Netter told town officials. “Many (people) said they were glad the town is initiating this process.”

The move to research and write a bylaw comes amid continued outcry among residents who live near the currently operational Wind 1 turbine and the Wind 2 turbine, which town officials expect will begin turning in October.

Since Wind 1 began operation, neighbors have complained about the noise, low-frequency sound waves and shadow flicker causing headaches, dizziness and other health concerns.

Weston & Sampson, the town’s environmental and infrastructure consultant on the turbine projects, handed selectmen a report last month that detailed the costs associated with studying several possible mitigation options ranging from decommissioning the turbines to altering abutters’ homes. Selectmen tabled that issue, focusing on hiring a new town manager in the meantime, according to board chairwoman Mary Pat Flynn.

While Netter noted interest in participating among most residents with whom she spoke over the past month, she said developers proved less receptive to the idea.

A lack of developer interest in the process and hard scientific data on the validity of abutters’ health complaints bothered Selectman Melissa Freitag, who remained unsure whether enough data exist to warrant a consensus study.

“The first concern I heard from many, many people is if we’re going to have a bylaw, it should be based on science … not anecdote,” Freitag said at the Aug. 22 meeting.

Richard K. Latimer, a planning board member, also spoke in favor of holding off on a consensus study until more empirical data regarding health effects become available.

“I think (the consensus study is) a little premature,” Latimer said in a phone interview. “At this point, I don’t think I can say to anybody (that) we know that there are no health effects.”

Selectman Brent Putnam supported the study, saying that getting people’s opinion of options for the possible bylaw could help move along their progress.

“Why not?” Putnam asked. “Are there any pitfalls … why we wouldn’t want to move forward with this process?”

Source:  By Sean Teehan, Cape Cod Times, www.capecodonline.com 30 August 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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