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Judge orders Falmouth turbine hours cut back

The town of Falmouth has been ordered to cut back its wind turbine operation hours from 16 hours a day to 12 hours a day, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, beginning Nov. 22.

On Sundays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s the 1.65-megawatt wind generators must remain idle for the sake of nearby neighbors who have brought a court action against the town, stipulated Barnstable Superior Court judge Christopher J. Muse in his order dated Nov. 21.

Muse earlier this month presided over what he said he believed was an agreement with the town to limit the hours of operations at the two municipal wind turbines, at the request of neighbors Neil and Elizabeth Andersen.

“Experienced counsel indicated to the court that the Town would ‘immediately’ restrict turbine operation,” Muse wrote in his Nov. 21 order.

“In the face of this promise to the court, the Town has refused to reduce the turbine operation hours from sixteen per day to the promised twelve. Therefore, the Town’s actions, (or inactions), require this court to employ its discretion in ruling,” Muse wrote.

The town Zoning Board of Appeals had already ruled that the turbines were creating a nuisance for Neil and Elizabeth Anderson, the couple seeking a preliminary injunction against their operation, Muse continued:

“The ZBA heard evidence and made its finding that the wind turbines were a nuisance at the Andersens’ property during an extended period in which the turbines were only operated twelve hours per day. The clear import of the ZBA’s decision is that the turbines were a nuisance when operating on this schedule. Certainly, the Selectmen’s subsequent vote and action to increase the turbines’ operations to sixteen hours per day, in the absence of any other remedial actions by the Town, is wholly antithetical to the ZBA’s order to eliminate the nuisance.”

Judge Muse also ordered both parties, the Andersens and the town, to submit in 75 days a written status update on efforts to mitigate the nuisance.