Town officials agreed to pursue an alternate path to resolve the numerous wind turbine lawsuits filed against the town by offering mediation to the plaintiffs.
On Monday night, July 25, Board of Selectmen Chairman Douglas H. Jones announced the board had just voted in executive session to authorize Town Manager Julian M. Suso, Town Council Frank A. Duffy Jr. and the town’s insurer, Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association, to participate in mediation with all parties in pending wind turbine litigation to resolve all outstanding suits and claims.
According to Mr. Duffy, there are 11 active suits currently in either Barnstable Superior Court or Massachusetts Land Court.
The suits have been filed by neighbors of the two 1.65 megawatt turbines located at the town’s wastewater plant off Blacksmith Shop Road.
One of the plaintiffs, resident Mark J. Cool, said called the announcement “a good thing.”
“It’s the first time in about six years a more direct channel of communication with the town will be open,” he said.
He filed his suit in 2010 after talks with the town provided no relief from the spinning blades, situated about one-third of a mile from his home, he said. He has experienced a host of symptoms including pressure headaches and loss of sleep. He and some neighbors combined their respective suits and now there are eight plaintiffs on his suit alone.
Mr. Jones said it is time to look at another solution.
“The board feels the litigation process has been going on long enough,” he said, noting it is not the first time the town has made offers to plaintiffs that were rejected.
“I am hopeful for a speedy resolution.”
The town’s insurer indicated they would be make a monetary contribution toward a resolution, just how much is yet to be decided, Mr. Duffy said.
Christopher Senie, attorney representing several of the plaintiffs, has already agreed to begin the negotiations, said Mr. Duffy.
The next step is a conference call with all the attorneys involved that is scheduled for early next week. Eventually, the parties need to agree on a mediator and who will represent each side during the talks.
The 397-foot tall turbines were erected between 2010 and 2011 to power the wastewater facility and produce renewable energy credits. But neighbors have complained about adverse health effects and devaluing of their properties and have pursued many options to get them to stop spinning.
However, it could cost up to $15 million to shutter them, considering repayment of a grant and loan, loss of renewable credit income and loss of energy.
Currently, Wind 1 is shut down following a Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals cease and desist order. Wind 2 is operating on a curtailed half-time schedule resulting from a 2013 Barnstable Superior Court order that stated the turbines were a nuisance to neighbors, who claim the turbines produce ill health effects and devalue their property.
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