The three candidates vying for a seat on Scituate’s board of selectmen agree that something can be done to quiet the town’s wind turbine. But specifically how – and when – it should be done is what differentiates them.
Ann Burbine, James Gilmore and Martin O’Toole took part in a WATD radio forum on Thursday. The annual town election will be held April 30.
Burbine, 64, a small-business owner, said the residents who live near the turbine, which is off the Driftway, need relief. Some neighbors say the turbine’s shadow flicker and noise are hurting their health.
“You can’t help but feel empathy, and (I’m) so sad for those people that are dealing with all of this without any real recourse,” Burbine said.
She said the town should act immediately to reduce the turbine’s noise impact. On Wednesday, Burbine was one of 118 residents who supported a non-binding resolution at town meeting to shut down the turbine.
O’Toole, 53, a small-business owner, was one of 132 voters who opposed the resolution. O’Toole said the town needs to wait until the turbine has been studied before acting.
“If these health problems are real, then we do have a real problem,” O’Toole said. “The only thing is I hesitate to jump into anything until (the studies are done).”
O’Toole suggested that the turbine owner could reduce the blade speed to see if that helps.
Gilmore, 54, the president of a flooring contractor, voted in favor of the resolution Wednesday, but he said he did so because the measure was non-binding. Like O’Toole, he wants to wait for the study results before taking action.
However, Gilmore said the selectmen have erred by focusing too much on the turbine’s fiscal impact and not enough on the health complaints.
“If we’ve got to spend a little bit of money, risk-wise, to say, ‘OK, let’s turn it off from 7 p.m. at least until first thing in the morning,’ we might risk $100,000,” Gilmore said. “What’s $100,000 (if we’re protecting residents)?”
On a separate topic, Gilmore and O’Toole both said the town should look at reducing its Community Preservation Act property-tax surcharge in order to lessen the burden of the town’s long-term building plan, which will likely require temporary tax hikes. Burbine disagreed, saying the Community Preservation Act funds should be left alone.
All three candidates agreed that the selectmen need to be more transparent and more proactive in communicating with residents.
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