The Bourne Board of Health has issued more than a dozen violation notices in connection with the construction of wind turbines at the Bourne-Plymouth town line. Among the entities that were sent notices were the Town of Plymouth, the Plymouth Board of Health, Future Generation Wind, Consolidated Edison Solutions, and Keith A. Mann, owner of the cranberry farm where the turbines are being built.
Enforcement orders also went to Eversource, since the company has entered into an agreement to receive power generated by the turbines, and mortgage company Farm East Credit of Middleborough. The board decided that Farm East Credit did not do its due diligence in making sure that Future Generation Wind, Consolidated Edison Solutions, and Mr. Mann had secured variances for the project from the Town of Bourne.
Four gargantuan wind turbines are being built on Mr. Mann’s property off Head of the Bay Road. The board of health contends that Future Generation Wind and Consolidated Edison Solutions needed to secure a variance from the Town of Bourne’s wind energy conversion systems regulations. Those regulations declare “excessive noise and [shadow] flicker a nuisance” and require a variance to regulate the amount of allowable shadow flicker and the noise level of the spinning blades.
Bourne town counsel Robert S. Troy has advised the board of health that because the effects of the turbines, particularly shadow flicker caused by the spinning blades, would be felt by Bourne residents, the project comes under the board’s authority. However, the companies’ position has been that because the wind farm is in Plymouth, the board of health has no jurisdiction.
The enforcement notices went out Thursday, January 14, one day after the board of health decided to take action during a marathon session that did not end until close to midnight Wednesday, January 13. At that meeting, several residents affected by the turbines criticized the town for not moving fast enough in pursuing an injunction against the wind farm. Some people in the audience also criticized Mr. Troy and suggested hiring a different attorney to pursue the case.
Karen M. Gibides of Morning Mist Lane noted that at the Bourne selectmen’s meeting on January 5, a letter from Mr. Troy was read. In the letter, Mr. Troy said the town could not file for an injunction until the board of health sent out violation notices. The letter came in the aftermath of the board of health’s deciding in mid-November to request approval from selectmen to have Mr. Troy seek an injunction.
Ms. Gibides questioned why it took 34 days between the health board’s decision and Mr. Troy’s saying enforcement orders had to go out first. She questioned Mr. Troy’s commitment and asked if the board could hire a different attorney. She also suggested that if Bourne does not act swiftly, precedent could be set for other neighboring towns “to construct non-conforming projects, any of which could be detrimental to the town’s residents.”
Ronald A. Matheson of Wolf Road also took issue with Mr. Troy. Mr. Matheson said he did not believe the town’s counsel has “the will to win and the knowledge to handle the case.” He urged the board to hire a different attorney. Ms. Peterson said that was not possible, as the board of selectmen had denied a request from the board of health for funds to hire a new lawyer.
Ms. Peterson apologized to residents, saying she had been under the incorrect impression that violations notices could not be sent out until the windmills were in operation. She also said that, having seen the turbines constructed, she was appalled at the Town of Plymouth for approving the project and at Future Generation Wind for having the audacity to build on a border and “not having the gumption to come in and get a variance.”
Board member Kelly A. Mastria said the turbines issue had gone on “way, way way too long.” Ms. Mastria compelled the health board to do something that night and issue the violation notices as soon as possible, in the best interest of the town’s citizens.
“Our job is to protect them,” she said.
Yesterday, January 14, in response to an e-mail from Hideaway Village resident Cayce L. Sands who attended Wednesday night’s meeting, town administrator Thomas M. Guerino said that, to date, neither he nor the selectmen have voted to deny funding to the board of health to hire separate counsel.
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