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Special permit hearing for Wind 1 continued

The hearing on the Town of Falmouth’s application for a special permit to operate Wind 1 will continue at a third zoning board of appeals meeting on December 10.

The board heard testimony regarding the application for the second time at its meeting last night. Acoustic engineer Christopher Menge of Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc. (HMMH), presented data from a 2010 HMMH study of the existing sound levels from Wind 1—one of two town-owned wind turbines installed on Blacksmith Shop Road without a special permit—and how they would increase after Wind 2 was installed. The latter turbine was erected in 2012.

According to a Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection noise policy, Mr. Menge said, the sound of the structures should not increase above 10 decibels above ambient sound levels. The Town of Falmouth windmill bylaw states that more than 40 decibels from the nearest property line is considered excessive.

In roughly an hour-long presentation, Mr. Menge described the results of long- and short-term monitoring conducted between June 18 and 28, 2010. Variables included separating the noise created by the turbines alone and together from each abutter’s property, with and without background noise and at different times of day at varying wind speeds.

Mr. Menge concluded that Wind 1 was not expected to produce noise levels greater than 40 decibels at the nearest property line. With both turbines operating, he said that the level might be slightly exceeded.

“The board could require that during the quietest early morning hours, either one of the turbines could have an increased cut in speed of approximately eight meters per second,” he said.

Board chairman Kimberley A. Bielan asked whether he knew of any other studies conducted of both turbines operating “in the real world,” as the HMMH study involved modeling. Mr. Menge said that there had been none that he knew of.

The hearing will continue on Thursday, December 10, at 6 PM.