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South Plymouth turbines start-up hinges upon legal review in Barnstable

Both Bourne officials and a group of Head of the Bay residents await word of judicial relief for their efforts to halt start-up operations at cranberry grower Keith Mann’s controversial four-turbine wind farm in South Plymouth.

Barnstable Superior Court Judge Gary Nickerson on March 8 took under review two requests for injunctive relief lodged against the Future Generation Wind alternative energy project situated between Head of the Bay Road and Route 25.

Bourne Selectmen Chairman Stephen Mealy said he could only comment about the unfolding issue remaining “in review by the judge,” probably for two weeks.

Bourne Selectman Donald Ellis, a skeptic of town efforts to halt the out-of-town wind farm operations by the board of health, said the town’s lawyers in this matter were well prepared in court.

Future Generation Wind argues it need not file for a wind farm variance under Bourne’s turbine protection bylaw crafted by the board of health given that the operation is beyond the town line and has weathered review by Plymouth authorities.

Bourne Town Counsel Robert Troy says this remains a factor in the legal action underway but that it is not an insurmountable argument to contest.

Karen Gibedes of Buzzards Bay, meanwhile, told Bourne selectmen March 8 that the citizen group seeking to halt operation of the turbines had formed an information-sharing committee; she also took issue with the point that no Bourne officials had opted to attend the citizen meetings.

“We feel the board of selectmen are not acting in our best interest,” Gibedes said. “Even as the judge encourages communication. We don’t feel safe and we don’t feel protected.”

The four FGW turbines have been constructed and blades have been attached. Three turbines are situated west of the Route 25 connector at the point where Wareham, Bourne, and South Plymouth converge. A fourth turbine is situated just east of the highway about 3.5 miles from the Bourne Bridge.

The turbines tower over the landscape and are easily viewed from homes around Buttermilk Bay and along Head of the Bay Road as well as the old Hideaway Village cottage colony that is now condominiums directly across from the turbines.

The citizens group takes public and direct opposition to the way in which selectmen have handled the turbines issue in terms of authorizing legal action.

And the Bourne health board, in turn, bristles at being precluded by Troy from his legal strategizing, which includes Hyannis attorney Charles Sabbitt as co-counsel.

Mealy said his board is precluded from responding to such sentiment when it evolves in the public-comment segment of his meetings – primarily because litigation is involved and selectmen routinely do not discuss or deliberate issues raised in that part of their weekly meetings.

The Bourne health board says there are various turbine concerns that FGW must address even though the structures are in Plymouth; notably, these include public health, environmental, flicker, shadowing, and noise issues.

The Bourne turbine-protection bylaw was written and adopted three years ago in the wake of another turbine project being advanced off Scenic Highway overlooking the canal.

That New Generation Wind proposal also included commercial-grade turbines but did not pass muster with the Cape Cod Commission, the Cape’s regional land-use planning agency.