Standing out in front of Stop & Shop on Teaticket Highway Tuesday afternoon, September 29, Ronald D. Zweig of Fay Road, Woods Hole, saw for himself the sides forming in the town’s ongoing wind turbine issue.
Clipboard in hand, Mr. Zweig, a member of the Falmouth Climate Action Team, sought signatures from residents supporting an article for the upcoming Special Town Meeting warrant on November 10 that, if passed, would keep both of the town’s wind turbines in operation. Some residents were not eager to sign their name to the petition.
“Good luck,” one resident said abruptly as he headed to the parking lot. “You’re fighting a losing battle.”
But after two hours, Mr. Zweig had gathered 95 of the necessary 100 signatures in support of the article by himself. That did not include additional signatures that were being collected by his wife, Christina C. Rawley, another member of the climate action team, outside of town hall.
“We want to bring a discussion to Town Meeting about keeping these turbines running,” Ms. Rawley said.
The group had until Tuesday, September 29, at 7 PM to submit its article and signatures to selectmen, who voted on articles for the Special Town Meeting later that night. Selectmen voted to include the petition article as one of three articles on the Special Town Meeting warrant, provided that the article is certified by town clerk Michael C. Palmer.
Selectmen initially indicated that they would favor keeping the turbines running while they appeal a cease-and-desist order from the zoning board of appeals to temporarily stop operation of the first turbine, Wind 1. The Massachusetts Court of Appeals ruled in February that the turbines were activated without first obtaining a special permit from the appeals board.
After selectmen voted in executive session Monday night, September 28, to abide by the order during the appeal process, members of the climate action team quickly got to work securing signatures for their petition article.
“It was a complete turnaround,” Ms. Rawley said of the selectmen’s decision on September 28.
The climate action group wants the turbines to continue operating as voted on by residents in May 2013, when two-thirds of Falmouth residents who went to the polls voted not to support an article requesting that the turbines be shut down and removed. Abutters have raised issue with the turbines, specifically about the noise and potential health effects they can cause.
Shutting the turbines down would be costly, and Ms. Rawley said that keeping them in operation will save the town $25 million.
“This is a very costly decision they are making right now,” she said. Selectmen also unanimously voted to include an article on the Special Town Meeting warrant to appropriate money to cover the cost of not running Wind 1. A dollar figure will be applied to the article before it is put to a vote at Special Town Meeting.
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