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Attorney organizing two-town, tag team turbine fight

Plymouth residents appear ready to join forces with some folks in Buzzards Bay to wage a legal battle against the operation of four wind turbines built at the border of the two towns.

“We fought those turbines on Head of the Bay Road back when they tried to shove it down our throats five years ago,” Lawrence W. McGrath said.

Mr. McGrath is an attorney with Waterford Consulting Ltd. in Boston. He characterized the decision by the Plymouth Board of Health to permit the turbines as a “money-grab for tax credits.” He praised Bourne’s health regulations, which have a limitation of 10 decibels for sound that can be generated by a wind turbine. Plymouth’s regulations are six times that of Bourne’s, he said.

He also accused cranberry farmer Keith A. Mann, on whose property the turbines now stand, of drying up a once-popular recreational area in Plymouth by diverting water from the pond into his cranberry bogs.

“It was a recreational beach for the people who lived there before he got there. There were lifeguards and swimming lessons,” he said.

He said that he expects to meet in the near future with Buzzards Bay residents who have been before both the Bourne Board of Health and the Bourne Board of Selectmen, to discuss their legal options in trying to prevent the turbines from spinning. In March, a 20-member citizens group filed a lawsuit against both boards, as well as Bourne town administrator Thomas M. Guerino, town counsel Robert S. Troy, the Town of Bourne, and Future Generation Wind, LLC, owners of the turbines.

The citizens group, led by Ian E. Davies of Gainsboro Drive, sought legal action because, the group claimed, town officials 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. Barnstable Superior Court Judge Gary A. Nickerson ruled on April 8 that “the evidence presented failed to demonstrate any impropriety in the conduct of the Town’s affairs.”

In a second ruling 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 WECS (wind energy conversion systems).

Members of the board of health said that Future Generation Wind 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 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 ruled.

Mr. McGrath said that he is actively recruiting people in both Bourne and Plymouth to join his group. He said that he plans to invite Congressman William R. Keating (D-Bourne), Senator Viriato M. (Vinnie) deMacedo (R-Plymouth) and state Representative Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich) to meet with residents of both Bourne and Plymouth.