Selectmen refused to budge on Article 3 of the Town Meeting warrant, voting unanimously on Monday evening to recommend that the proposed wind turbine bylaw be rejected because it could negate the option of moving town turbines at the Wastewater Treatment Facility elsewhere.
Selectman Douglas H. Jones said that it was not likely that the Falmouth Wind Turbine Options group would recommend moving the turbines. Mr. Jones turned out to be right, as the group agreed Wednesday night not to recommend such a move.
Prior to selectmen discussing the issue, the Falmouth Planning Board had voted that same night against amending Article 3 to exempt the town from the bylaw. Because of that, Chairman of the Falmouth Board of Selectmen Kevin E. Murphy said the by-law would prohibit the town from moving the turbines if it wanted to. “Even though it may not be a viable option at the time, it is still there,” said Mr. Murphy.
The one major concern, he said, is that the town’s two-year moratorium on the construction of wind turbines would end on May 1. If a new wind turbine bylaw is not in place at that time, anyone could request to build one under the town’s current bylaw. Selectman Mary (Pat) Flynn said there was always the possibility of passing a bylaw at Town Meeting in April though Town Manager Julian M. Suso noted it would take anywhere from 30 to 90 days before it gets approved by the state, leaving a gap in which a resident or business owner could apply for a permit to build a turbine under the current bylaw.
Given the current controversy with the turbines, Selectman Brent V.W. Putnam did not anticipate that there would be any commercial or residential requests from anyone to build a large-scale turbine like those at the Wastewater Treatment Facility. “My worry is that we need to keep all options on the table,” Mr. Murphy said. Though selectmen do not make a recommendation on the article, he called for his fellow board members to vote against supporting Article 3 and to present a united front at Town Meeting.
After some reluctance on the part of Mr. Jones and Ms. Flynn, the board ultimately agreed unanimously to not support the article at this time because it wanted to allow the wind turbine options process to play itself out. Mr. Murphy anticipated that process to conclude well before Town Meeting in April, at which time a similar article amending the current wind turbine bylaw could be presented for its consideration.
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