FALMOUTH – Falmouth selectmen held their first public discussion related to the town’s wind turbines since town residents overwhelmingly voted May 21 against funding removal of Wind 1 and Wind 2 at the Falmouth Wastewater Treatment Facility. The discussion came at their July 1 meeting, marking the first time the board discussed the divisive issue under the new leadership of Brent Putnam, who became chairman on June 3.
The addition of Selectman Rebecca Moffitt to the board helped change the tone of the discussions. She replaced former Selectman David Braga, who chose not to seek re-election in May.
Turbine neighbors have long complained that the industrial-sized turbines have caused them significant adverse sleep and health effects. Currently, the turbines are operating under curtailed hours, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Look for a more detailed article next week both at Wicked Local Falmouth and in the print issue of The Bulletin. Meanwhile, here are the bullet points from tonight’s discussion:
· There was no public comment allowed, as it was a public discussion among the selectmen, not a public hearing.
· Selectmen Chairman Brent Putnam called the July 1 meeting a “preliminary discussion” and said he expects future meetings where public comment will be allowed.
· Putnam said the Falmouth Board of Health is willing to assist selectmen with any decisions they make with regards to the industrial-sized turbines, and to help provide selectmen with any relevant information they request.
· Putnam questions whether the Wind 1 bond is a standard municipal bond or a revenue bond and also wants clarification on the costs of removing the turbines.
· Putnam states one consultant, Tony Rogers, estimates 20-40 houses could face litigation related to the wind turbines.
· Selectman Mary Pat Flynn said the board must consider and adopt a wind turbines operating plan, and develop alternative mitigation strategies. She wants action by the end of summer.
· The majority of selectmen seemed to think the option of removing the turbines is now off the table, based on the May 21 election results. But Putnam said that would depend on whether the state would help fund removal of the turbines.
· Selectman Kevin Murphy noted that turbine neighbors still can attempt to remove the turbines through legal challenges.
· Selectmen will review the remaining options that arose from the Wind Turbines Options Analysis Process (WTOP) study group and also gather more information.
· Selectmen also will consider options not recommended by WTOP, including potential relocation of the wind turbines.
· Falmouth Town Manager Julian Suso said pending litigation limits, to some extent, what the selectmen are able to do, including discussion in a public session.
· Putnam said if the town looks at eminent domain as option, they would need to come up with a figure to buy and re-sell homes and go back to Town Meeting for a vote.
· Murphy suggested selectmen wait to hold a public hearing until selectmen formulate a plan/option on how they wish to proceed.
· Selectmen agreed to delay any further public discussions on the wind turbines until August, while they gather more information.
To view live tweets from tonight’s wind turbine discussion, visit reporter Scott A. Giordano’s Twitter page at @ScottGBulletin.
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