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Neighbors ask judge to shut down turbine

BARNSTABLE – One week after the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals voted to temporarily shut down one of the town’s twin wind turbines, neighbors of the structures on Friday filed an emergency request for a cease-and-desist order in Barnstable Superior Court.

Attorneys J. Alexander Watt and Christopher Senie, who represent some of the turbines’ neighbors, decided to request the court hearing because they weren’t confident that the town intended to follow the official order filed by the board on Wednesday following a vote to do so last week, they said.

“That’s why we’re going back to Judge (Robert) Rufo to hopefully issue an independent cease-and-desist from the court,” Watt said. “I don’t know why the town would think they are exempt from the court order.”

Following six years of legal challenges brought by neighbors, the zoning board voted 4-1 on Sept. 17 to overturn the zoning enforcement officer’s denial of a cease-and-desist order on Wind 1, which the Massachusetts Court of Appeals ruled in June had been erected without proper zoning approval.

The town has 20 days from the Sept. 17 ruling to appeal the cease-and-desist order, but Watt and Senie said Wind 1 should be shut down immediately, regardless of the appeal.

In a statement sent on Thursday, Falmouth Town Manager Julian Suso said the town will continue to operate Wind 1 until the board of selectmen review the cease-and-desist order and decide whether they want to appeal.

“After consultation with counsel and with concurrence of the building commissioner, the town understands that it has a 20-day appeal period to consider its options and response, “ Suso wrote.

The turbines already are operating on a reduced schedule under a November 2013 order from Barnstable Superior Court Judge Christopher Muse.

Senie and Watt said they believe the town’s counsel has misinterpreted the law in their decision to keep Wind 1 operating after the order was issued.

“The town has, in a press release and in other documents, indicated that they feel that the cease-and-desist is not in effect and I disagree,” Senie said. “I hope between the ZBA and the court we can have Wind 1 turned off because it’s a structure operating without any kind of permit.”

A hearing on the neighbors’ joint motion for entry of the cease-and-desist order is scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m.