DUXBURY – With two of the three selectmen requesting that the Alternative Energy Committee put a hold on any plans to seek additional funding for further research into the siting of a wind turbine at North Hill, neighbors won a battle in their fight to kill the project.
Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting was emotional, as residents, mostly from Hounds Ditch Lane, accused the Alternative Energy Committee of continuing to pursue the wind turbine project despite what they claim are facts that prove wind turbines pose a serious health threat among other negative consequences.
“What gives you the right to use us as guinea pigs for your little project?” Hounds Ditch Lane resident Laurie McIntosh directly asked Alternative Energy Committee Chairman Jim Goldenberg.
Goldenberg argued against selectmen “handcuffing” the committee by making such a request at a time when they are trying to gather more information to present an informed proposal to the public at large. He said he’s not sure Hounds Ditch Lane residents represent Duxbury as a whole.
Selectmen Ted Flynn and Chris Donato voted to request that the Alternative Energy Committee hold off on requesting funding for any additional studies, particularly with the state conducting its own studies on wind turbines. Donato said there’s no need to rush the project through to voters next spring.
Flynn said approving any money for further study would give the project a life of its own.
“Give the Alternative Energy Committee time to keep doing its research, but let’s not put any money on the table for the kinds of studies that might actually lead to empowering a wind turbine,” he said.
About 50 members of the citizens group Duxbury Wind Wise filled the Town Hall meeting room to plead with selectmen to stop the project from going forward. Selectmen could follow up on their request to the Alternative Energy Committee by voting to keep any proposal off the Town Meeting warrant.
Without a guarantee that a wind turbine won’t have negative health impacts, Hounds Ditch Lane resident Dan Ryan said this project should not go forward. He also said he’s not convinced a state study on the effects of wind turbines would answer all the questions residents have about potential dangers.
“Until there is a resolution, there’s a bullseye on this neighborhood,” he said.
Selectman Shawn Dahlen suggested a different solution. He said voters could submit a petition – with 10 signatures required by the Dec. 6 warrant deadline – to place an article on the Town Meeting warrant requesting a moratorium on wind turbine projects for the entire town.
“That will alleviate all your anxiety in March,” he said.
Dahlen said he cannot support a request that would handcuff the committee selectmen charged to consider all options for renewable energy. He said in a democracy, all perspectives need to be taken into account. Any Town Meeting article would do that, he said.
At its last meeting, the Duxbury Alternative Energy Committee agreed to focus its efforts on studying the impact of a smaller 450-kilowatt wind turbine instead of a 900-kilowatt wind turbine, but that didn’t change the minds of those who spoke in opposition Monday night.
Hounds Ditch Lane resident Jack Murphy, speaking on behalf of Duxbury Wind Wise, said a smaller turbine would mean less financial benefit to the town, which makes it less attractive from a financial perspective. He also informed selectmen that it has been overlooked that the town requires the installation of meteorological towers to measure wind speeds at potential sites.
All other arguments aside, North Hill-area neighbors expressed the greatest concern about health impacts. Murphy introduced Falmouth resident Neil Anderson, who explained that he suffers from fatigue, loss of hearing, vertigo, depression, chronic stress and multiple other ailments due to a wind turbine near his home. Murphy said it hits home to hear how Anderson has suffered and thinks the same could happen in Duxbury.
Merry Avenue resident Rochelle Albin said she has to question why Duxbury would want to get involved in complex new technology that could lead to disaster when there are other ways to save energy that could be implemented.
Albin said the potential for legal action exists if Alternative Energy Committee members are encouraged by inaction on the part of selectmen to go through with what she described as an intellectual exercise that’s totally ridiculous.
“Volunteers are spinning their wheels on this,” she said. “I respectfully disagree (with Dahlen) about democracy. There has to be a point where the people in charge take a stand.”
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