FALMOUTH – A deal that turbine abutters struck with town officials in return for their participation in an advisory panel may not be as sweet as they thought.
Three weeks ago, Town Manager Julian Suso and board of selectmen Chairman Kevin Murphy sat down with Todd Drummey and Kathryn Elder, who represented abutters of two 1.65-megawatt turbines. At the time, town officials butted heads with Drummy and Elder’s contingent of residents who claimed the turbines cause several negative health effects including lost sleep, headaches and nausea among other concerns.
These residents refused to participate in a panel charged with gauging opinions and possible solutions to problems associated with the turbines.
When the Falmouth Wind Turbines Options Analysis Process began in May, representatives of the group of people in about 40 nearby households said their participation in the talks would come only when the Wind 1 and Wind 2 turbines both stopped and remained so through the process’ duration.
In their conversation three weeks ago, Elder and Drummey agreed that several representatives of turbine abutters would sit on the panel if the selectmen set aside their statement of principles for turbine mitigation – a guideline of how the town would operate the Falmouth-owned turbines for the remainder of the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years.
“The neighbors are going under the assumption that that statement of principles is not going to come back,” Drummey said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Selectman Mary Pat Flynn, who serves as one of the two board liaisons to the process group, said the board agreed to set aside the statement of principles for the analysis process so the group could consider all options. But, she said, it still remains a legitimate document that could guide selectmen’s decisions.
“We didn’t want to rescind it because to rescind it would be to invalidate it,” Flynn said in a phone interview Tuesday. “To rescind it, which is what (some abutters) wanted, is not something the selectmen were willing to do.”
Selectman Doug Jones, who serves as the other board liaison, said in a phone interview Tuesday that the board discussed the language of the deal in executive session June 25 before convening in public session and voting to set aside the statement of principles.
The compromise between the town and abutters served to show the selectmen had no intention in interfering with the analysis process, Suso said in a Tuesday evening phone interview. Drummey and Elder insisted the deal say the statement of principles be “set aside” rather than “suspended,” as Murphy and Suso originally suggested, Suso said.
“We are not going to live by the statement of principles, we are going to work in good faith,” said Murphy, who added that selectmen’s final decision on a possible town meeting warrant article related to the turbines may or may not include stipulations in the current statement of principles.
Drummey was upset Tuesday night after hearing of the board’s view of the deal from a Times reporter after the analysis process meeting at the Gus Canty Community Center.
“I would be very disappointed if that’s really their (stance),” he said.
Elder said that despite the fact she disagrees with the statement of principles, selectmen are allowed to use them to guide their decision if they see fit.
But Day Mount, who attended Tuesday’s analysis process meeting, saw town officials’ view of the deal as “backpedaling.”
“To us it’s a matter of trust,” said Mount, who lives about a quarter mile from one of the town-owned turbines.
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