FALMOUTH – Wind turbine opponents scored another victory this week when the Zoning Board of Appeals agreed once again that Falmouth’s municipal turbines are a nuisance to nearby residents.
This time, it was West Falmouth resident Barry Funfar who got a favorable ruling from the ZBA. Funfar, who lives on Ridgeview Drive with his wife, Diane, complained to the town in April that the two town-owned turbines were making his pre-existing health problems worse. Funfar, a Vietnam veteran, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and says the turbines exacerbate the effect of his PTSD symptoms.
But Building Commissioner Eladio Gore determined they were not a nuisance, so Funfar appealed that decision to the ZBA.
Thursday night, the zoning board unanimously voted to overturn Gore’s determination. The ruling means the town is ordered to take whatever steps are necessary to remove the nuisance caused by the turbines, which are located at the town wastewater treatment plant on Blacksmith Shop Road. Thursday’s meeting was a continuation of Funfar’s hearing, which initially began in September, said Zoning Administrator Sari Budrow.
Funfar said his wife was “elated” by the decision, but his reaction was more measured.
“To me, it’s just one more small step to getting my yard back,” he said. “That’s my place, that’s my therapy. … I don’t know what to expect next. The town has the next move.”
Thursday’s ruling was not the first time the ZBA has overruled Gore in favor of a turbine abutter. In May, it did the same for Neil and Elizabeth Andersen, who live on Blacksmith Shop Road. The Andersens had similarly complained about the turbines’ noise and the health effects they suffered as a result of their operation.
The Board of Selectmen appealed the ruling, which meant the town had to sue its own ZBA.
Barnstable Superior Court Judge Christopher Muse ruled last month that, while the case is pending, the turbines can run only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and have to be off on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The selectmen voted in September to run the turbines for 16 hours a day in an effort to generate enough revenue to cover their operational costs.
Thursday’s ZBA vote was 4-0 after a two-hour hearing, Budrow said. Member Patricia Johnson was absent; Mark Cool, who is an associate member and does not have voting rights except to fill the seat of an absent member, is a turbine neighbor and recused himself from the decision.
Town Manager Julian Suso said Friday that Town Counsel Frank Duffy will review the ZBA’s written decision once it is issued, then the selectmen will decide if they want to appeal the ZBA hearing in court.
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