FALMOUTH – Five days after receiving a report from the panel charged with finding options to mitigate complaints related to wind turbines, selectmen heard plenty of public comment on the hot-button topic Wednesday night.
The Falmouth Wind Turbine Options Analysis Process on Friday outlined three options to the board: run the turbines without curtailment; curtail turbine operation; or replace the turbines with solar panels. The panel did not recommend which of the three options selectmen should pursue.
During the meeting at town hall, selectmen received the analysis of the people: two-hours worth.
“I ask you, for just a moment, to listen,” said turbine opponent John Ford, who then paused before the packed room, which came to a hush so that only the ventilation system was audible. “That peace and quiet is what is missing in the lives of the children, women and men living in the (turbine-affected) neighborhoods.”
Like the majority of people who spoke, Ford, who lives on Blacksmith Shop Road – the same road as the wastewater treatment facility that houses the two town-owned 1.65-megawatt turbines that some abutters say cause health problems – advocated replacing the turbines with a solar array.
One of the few who spoke out against the idea of decommissioning the turbines was Richard Latimer, a member of the Falmouth Planning Board.
Latimer, who is also a town meeting member, said that selectmen and town meeting were responsible for making the best decisions for Falmouth as a whole.
“To take turbines that we put up, perhaps foolishly “» spend additional money to take them down and end up with nothing is folly,” said Latimer, who advocated taking property surrounding the turbines by eminent domain. “Is this harsh? Yes, it is, but it would be equally harsh to the voters and taxpayers of Falmouth to ask them to spend money and take a loss.”
But the voice of the public also was heard before the meeting, on Falmouth Village Green, where several turbine opponents held a demonstration on Wednesday afternoon.
Holding a sign that read “Support our neighbors/stop the turbines now,” Louise Barteau of Fairhaven jumped up and down for warmth while she stood on the village green. The thermometer at Eastern Bank a block away displayed the temperature as 16 degrees.
“I believe in showing up to stand up for others,” said Barteau, who stood shivering with eight other people who cheered at the occasional honk of support from passing drivers at about 3 p.m.
The group included people from Falmouth, as well as far-flung towns where turbine projects have garnered criticism, such as Florida in Western Massachusetts.
Despite some members of the options process calling the panel a positive step, David Moriarty of Falmouth, who organized the demonstration, called the process a waste.
“No one who was in the group could agree on anything.” Moriarty said. “It was a big waste of money.”
Selectmen at Wednesday’s meeting did not take a vote and will continue to accept written public comment until Monday at 4:30 p.m.
Unsure of exactly when they would meet, selectmen planned to meet to deliberate a possible warrant article for April’s town meeting on one or more evenings next week between Tuesday and Thursday.
Selectmen hope to submit an article by Feb. 4.