A Scituate family has turned to the courts in an effort to shut down the town’s wind turbine.
Mark and Lauren McKeever say they and their two children have suffered from sleep deprivation, nausea, anxiety and other ailments since the wind turbine started spinning last March.
The 390-foot-tall turbine is located about 600 feet from their home off the Driftway.
Last month, the McKeevers filed a lawsuit in Plymouth Superior Court against the board of health and its three members, Russell Clark, Francis Lynch and Michael Vazza. The McKeevers have asked that a judge reverse the board’s decision, made in November, to keep the turbine operating while they plan a new study.
The McKeevers allege that the board has failed to protect the health of the town’s residents, and it made a decision based on unreliable information provided by the turbine’s owner.
“The Board of Health failed to act in accord with its statutory authority and jurisdiction and instead acted in a manner that was arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of the Board of Health’s discretion,” reads the lawsuit, filed on Dec. 14.
The McKeevers are among dozens of residents in Scituate’s Third Cliff neighborhood who, in recent months, have complained of health effects, including headaches and dizziness, from the turbine’s noise and flicker.
Aside from shutting down the turbine, the McKeevers are also seeking money to pay for “damages, costs and attorneys’ fees in an amount to be determined,” the lawsuit states.
The board of health has 30 days to respond to the McKeevers’ complaint, filed by their attorney, Tanya Trevisan. James Toomey, legal counsel for Scituate, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
During the health board’s Nov. 14 meeting, Mark and Lauren McKeever spoke emotionally about their troubles since the turbine went up.
“Everything about it is wrong,” Mark McKeever said at the meeting. “And I don’t know what’s going to come out of this, but I am a prisoner, and I’m tied to this house. I can’t go anywhere.”
The McKeevers couldn’t be reached on Thursday to comment about their court filing.
Russell Clark, chairman of the board of health, said although he feels badly for the McKeevers, he doesn’t believe the turbine should be turned off unless there is conclusive evidence that it violates noise or flicker laws. State law says a turbine can’t emit noise that’s more than 10 decibels louder than ambient noise.
At the Nov. 14 meeting, the board voted to form a steering committee that will set the terms for a new noise study. The committee, consisting of town health officials, turbine owners and Third Cliff residents, was set to meet Friday afternoon.
“We’re all residents of Scituate, but you’ve got to look at it in a judicial way, too,” Clark said. “So it’s a matter of gathering information from all sides, and that’s why we’re doing testing.”
The 1.5-megawatt turbine is owned by Scituate Wind, a joint venture of Solaya Energy and Palmer Capital Corp. Clark said the owner has agreed to pay for a new noise study, but it won’t pay for a flicker study because the company said it adequately tested flicker projections before the turbine went up.
Scituate leaders have estimated the turbine, built next to the town’s wastewater treatment plant, will save the town about $250,000 in annual energy costs for the next 15 years.
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