On May 21, Falmouth voters overwhelmingly voiced their opposition to fund removing the town’s wind turbines at the Falmouth Wastewater Treatment Facility, by voting no on Question 2. While Falmouth selectmen aren’t yet scheduled to discuss the next steps with the wind turbines, they are expected to do so in the near future. Meanwhile, at least one turbine neighbor appears to be taking the fight over Wind 1 and Wind 2 to the Falmouth Board of Health.
“Three years ago this month, town officials actively began the investigation of the wind turbine-health effect problem. The board of health, all the while, has had the charge of protecting local residents from pollutants and contaminants. Is the point nearing when this protracted problem solving strategy amounts to negligence on the part of our town leaders and decision makers,” writes Fire Tower Road resident Mark Cool in a June 3 letter to the board of health. “The Board of Health obviously feels it does not have sufficient data, so far, to substantiate a health problem in Falmouth.”
Cool then provides the board with additional information, which is not peer-reviewed, suggesting a trend in emerging problems with wind turbines throughout the state. In Boston, neighbors have begun complaining about noise and possible health concerns. In Fairhaven, five conducted tests concluded that their turbines exceeded the 10-decibel threshold for adding to background noise. In Kingston, noise control engineering concluded that wind turbines are generating noise that is in excess of the state’s broadband noise guideline.
The Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals decided, 4-1, that Wind 1 is a nuisance. That decision is being appealed by the Falmouth Board of Selectmen.
Kathryn Elder, another turbine neighbor, was a member of the Wind Turbines Options Analysis Process that studied options presented to selectmen before selectmen unanimously voted to support removing Wind 1 and Wind 2. She remains an outspoken critic of the wind turbines and also says the fight is far from over.
“The problem persists and festers. The vote was about funding the decision of the board of selectmen to take the turbines down. There is a small vocal minority of pro-wind folks in Falmouth (anonymous Friends of Falmouth Wind) who want to keep the turbines running at all costs. They ran a campaign against Question 2 that was all about a hugely inflated tax cost. Now they claim the vote was about the decision to keep turbines running rather than a decision not to pay a tax increase. They confuse issues and cast doubt to achieve their goal,” Elder said.
“The decision to take the turbines down still stands but there is not yet a way to pay for it. The ball is surely in the selectmen’s court and in the state’s court. The state, ultimately, has a large responsibility to help the town solve this problem but are paralyzed by the politics involved.”
Elder also noted that wind turbines are causing controversies beyond Falmouth, specifically mentioning Kingston, Fairhaven and Scituate.
It’s not clear how the newly reorganized Board of Selectmen will deal with the unresolved issue.
“The [Falmouth] selectmen were willing to set a precedent of putting the rights of the citizen first, over money, but they lack the means to implement it,” Elder said. “I don’t know how the reorganized board will react. There is no road map for this struggle to regain our basic rights.”
Elder said the election results don’t settle the matter. “It has not changed anything. It has stalled a resolution – the tactic that the pro-wind zealots have used all along: Stall, delay, confuse – anything but take them down and fix the mistake that they created by not presenting the true impacts of their project,” she said.
Malcolm Donald, another turbine neighbor, said the turbine opponents will hold a private meeting in the near future to strategize their next steps, but they have not met since the election. He also believes that the newly reorganized Board of Selectmen will benefit from the leadership of Chairman Brent Putnam.
“Brent Putnam will be a terrific chairman. He’s dynamic, smart, and to the point,” Donald said. “The vote didn’t resolve anything. All it said was that people didn’t want to pay for the governor’s mistakes. It didn’t solve the financial bleeding, and it didn’t solve the problems of the neighbors. The selectmen still have to deal with it, and I think that Putnam will give it a fair shot.”
And the turbine neighbors all say a lot may hinge on whether Judge Robert Rufo in Barnstable Superior Court rules in a pending case that the wind turbines require a special permit – a decision they say could be a game-changer.
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