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Scituate wind turbine issue to go before town meeting

SCITUATE – The debate about the alleged health effects of Scituate’s wind turbine is about to move to its biggest stage: the town meeting floor.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Scituate High School gymnasium. If a second night is needed, the meeting will continue Wednesday.

Town meeting voters will consider a citizens’ petition asking Scituate officials to rescind the special permit – awarded by the planning board in 2010 – that allowed Scituate Wind LLC to build a 390-foot-tall turbine off the Driftway. The petition was filed by turbine neighbors who say noise and flicker from the turbine have hurt their health.

Essentially, town meeting voters can tell officials whether they want the turbine, operational since March 2012, to stop operating. However, town leaders have said the vote on the citizens’ petition is non-binding, meaning town officials have the final say on the turbine’s future.

Last month, the selectmen voted unanimously against the citizens’ petition. They said they wanted to await the results of a noise study commissioned by the town’s board of health before making a decision on the turbine.

Also, selectmen said the town could be exposed to a costly lawsuit from Scituate Wind LLC if they shut down the turbine without evidence that the company violated its special permit. The permit says the turbine cannot produce noise that is more than 10 decibels louder than ambient noise.

The citizens’ petition is scheduled to be the next-to-last article discussed and voted upon during the annual town meeting, which has a 29-article agenda. And that excludes the six special town meeting articles that will be addressed before the annual town meeting starts.

Articles can be discussed out of order only if town meeting approves a voter-offered motion to do so.