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Court denies residents’ lawsuit against town

A group of residents who filed a lawsuit against Bourne officials relative to the construction of four giant wind turbines in Buzzards Bay have lost their case. A Barnstable Superior Court judge ruled against the residents’ request for injunctive relief against the Bourne Board of Selectmen, the Bourne Board of Health, and town administrator Thomas M. Guerino.

The lawsuit also named town counsel Robert S. Troy and the company behind the Buzzards Bay turbine project, Future Generation Wind, LLC. Selectmen and health board members were named individually, as well as collectively, in the action.

The 20-member citizens group, led by Ian E. Davies of Gainsboro Drive, sought legal action against the town because, the group claimed, board members did not act quickly enough, and in the best interest of residents, to prevent construction of the giant windmills. The legal action was dismissed by the court.

An evidentiary hearing was held on March 8 in Barnstable Superior Court in front of Judge Gary A. Nickerson. In his ruling, dated April 8, Judge Nickerson stated that “the evidence presented failed to demonstrate any impropriety in the conduct of the Town’s affairs.”

In a second ruling issued that day, Judge Nickerson denied the town’s motion seeking to prevent the four wind turbines from going into operation. The Bourne Board of Health had argued that because the turbines cast a shadow across the border and would affect Bourne residents, the project was subject to the town’s regulations regarding Wind Energy Conversion Systems.

Members of the board of health said that Future Generation Wind, LLC needed to secure a variance from town regulations before the machines could be operated. However, the judge ruled that Bourne’s own regulations relative to Wind Energy Conversion Systems (WECS) “are self-limiting in scope.”

“The Regulations do not empower the Board to regulate the construction of wind turbines in the town of Plymouth,” the judge’s ruling states.

Judge Nickerson did note that boards of health have the authority to regulate and prevent nuisances that affect public health. He left open the possibility of the Town of Bourne filing future legal action if it is determined that operation of the turbines is detrimental to the health of town residents.