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Bourne health board to seek injunction against wind farm

The Bourne Board of Health Wednesday night voted unanimously to ask selectmen for permission to seek an injunction against construction of four wind turbines in Plymouth. The board’s vote came even as work has begun on the first of four giant turbines on Keith A. Mann’s cranberry farm off Head of the Bay Road.

The board of health has contended that the project proponents, Future Generation Wind and Consolidated Edison Solutions, need to request a variance from the town in order to proceed with their project. However, the companies’ position has been that because the wind farm is in Plymouth and not Bourne, the board of health has no authority or jurisdiction in the matter.

The proponents’ attorney, Jonathan P. Fitch, has argued that case law is in his clients’ favor and the board’s jurisdiction ends at the town line. Board chairman Kathleen M. Peterson has countered that Bourne’s counsel, Robert Troy, has advised the board that since the effects of the turbines, particularly shadow flicker caused by the spinning blades, would be felt by Bourne residents, the project would technically be “in Bourne” and come under the board’s authority.

Regulations drafted by the town governing Wind Energy Conversion Systems, such as the Plymouth wind farm, declared “excessive noise and [shadow] flicker a nuisance.” A variance would be needed, board members have stipulated, to regulate the amount of allowable shadow flicker and the noise level of the spinning blades.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Karen M. Gibides of Morning List Lane read a letter into the record asking the board to seek legal recourse to stop the turbine project. Ms. Gibides noted that when the turbine project went before Plymouth town officials, the original plan was for five turbines. She added that one of the original turbines was rejected “presumably because of its proximity to Plymouth residents and the negative impact it would have on them.”

Ms. Gibides added that construction is already underway on the first of the project’s four turbines. The one being built, she said, is the one closest to the town line and will most affect Bourne residents. She pointed out that the turbine rejected by Plymouth town leaders would have been the same distance from Plymouth residents as the one now being built is from people in Bourne.

“As we are not taxpayers in that town, Plymouth was not obligated to be concerned with our well-being,” she said.

She implored the board to seek any and all legal recourse at its disposal to halt the project, suggesting that once the turbine is built, it will be a protracted and expensive proposition to stop it.

“It has to be done or we’re going to be looking at an up and running turbine within days, and nothing that we can do about it for years,” she said.

Douglas M. Giard, also of Morning Mist Lane, said construction of the turbine closest to Bourne is “a perfect example” of Future Generation Wind’s not taking the board of health seriously. Mr. Giard questioned why the project proponents have not offered alternatives, such as relocating the turbines so they will not impact Bourne residents.

“They’re saying ‘I don’t care, I don’t care if it’s going up and I don’t care how it impacts your life,’” he said.

Mr. Giard also suggested that Future Generation Wind could have offered compensation to neighboring homeowners, and mentioned that the wind farm will cause property values of homes in the immediate vicinity to go down approximately 25 percent.

“Twenty-five percent so one individual can increase his net worth. That is wrong,” he said.

Mr. Fitch attended Wednesday night’s meeting but did not address the board. The board voted unanimously in favor of asking the board of selectmen to authorize Mr. Troy to seek an injunction against the turbine project.

Ms. Peterson told the audience that she has repeatedly asked that representatives from Future Generation Wind and Consolidated Edison Solutions come before the board and request a variance, but they have chosen not to. She said that she has met with Mr. Troy, board of selectmen chairman Stephen F. Mealy, and town administrator Thomas M. Guerino on the issue, and they were made aware that the board of health may request that the town take legal action.

“I’m sorry it’s come to this, but under no way does this board feel they have a right to do this without getting a variance from us,” she said.

A letter to the board of selectmen requesting placement on its December 1 meeting agenda was sent by the board of health yesterday.