FALMOUTH – The town will go to court to appeal the denial of a special permit for one of its twin wind turbines, the Board of Selectmen announced Monday night, adding another lawsuit to the growing pile of litigation surrounding the controversial machines.
Doug Jones, chairman of the board, made a brief statement about the decision Monday after selectmen met in executive session for 90 minutes prior to the start of the board’s regular meeting.
Selectmen want an “objective review” of the decision and found that, on balance, the long-term financial and economic impacts of the turbines’ operation necessitated an appeal, Jones said.
“We find it’s in the community’s best interest to protect this major investment,” he said.
The Zoning Board of Appeals denied the special permit for the turbine April 14 after the majority of its members found fault with the town’s application on more than one point, including a zoning requirement that the turbine known as Wind 1 not have “adverse effects” on either the neighborhood or the town.
Throughout the permit hearing, which stretched over a half-dozen meetings and several months, neighbors of the turbine presented evidence on multiple fronts, including personal testimony, in an attempt to show the negative effects of the turbine.
The zoning board’s denial of the special permit means Wind 1 will remain dormant in accordance with a September cease-and-desist order from the board.
When the turbines were first constructed then-Building Commissioner Eladio Gore found that since they are owned by the town and were installed on town land, zoning laws didn’t apply, but the state’s Appeals Court ruled in 2015 that Wind 1 should have received a permit before it was constructed. The court’s ruling forced the town to file the special-permit application.
The towns two turbines at the town’s wastewater treatment facility on Blacksmith Shop Road have been a source of controversy since they were installed more than five years ago. Neighbors have complained about health effects from their operation and have used a number of avenues to try to shut them down, while the town has warned of dire financial consequences should either device be deactivated.
The town has a 20-day window from April 15, the day the Zoning Board of Appeals decision was filed, to appeal it either in Barnstable Superior Court or the state’s Land Court. As of Monday night it was unclear which path the town would take.
Nine lawsuits are currently pending in Barnstable Superior Court in connection with the turbines, including another one in which the town is suing its own Zoning Board of Appeals over a 2013 ruling that the wind turbines are a nuisance. After the case was filed, Barnstable Superior Court Judge Christopher Muse ordered the turbines turned off from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. six days a week and shut down completely and on certain holidays. Wind 2 is still operating under that reduced schedule.