Falmouth Board of Selectmen held off Monday, June 26, on appealing a Barnstable County Superior Court judge’s order to shut down the sole, town-owned wind turbine remaining in operation.
The decision to study the situation further came after a nearly two-hour-and-forty-minute executive session. The possible monetary costs to the town are so great as to warrant additional thought, said Chairman Susan L. Moran, reading a prepared statement on behalf of the board.
One of several pending legal actions against the pair of wind turbines situation near Blacksmith Shop Road, this case set town hall against Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals, and residents Barry A. and Diane C. Funfar. Judge Cornelius J. Moriarty II sided with the appeals board and Funfars, deeming the turbine known as Wind 2 a nuisance and issuing a cease-and-desist order.
Wind 1 went silent in September 2015 after similarly becoming mired in litigation.
About 30 people waited in the Selectmen’s Meeting Room in Falmouth Town Hall awaiting the board’s decision. Like many, Michael and Julie Palmieri favor renewable energy and turbines generally. They sympathize just as strongly with their fellow residents, who complain the noise and air pressure generated by the 397-foot machines negatively affected their health.
“It’s hard. They put all this money in and we thought it was a great idea” Ms. Palmieri said, who likened the sound made by the rotating turbines to the stomach-rumbling vibration generated by bass speakers in an approaching vehicle.
“Certainly, offshore wind turbines will become a big thing in the coming years,” Mr. Palmieri said. “But it shouldn’t be right on top of houses.”
Town Meeting member Deborah Siegal echoed those sentiments. Although in favor of renewable energy, Ms. Siegal finds fault in the size and scope of the two towers as well as their proximity to residences.
“I’m against [the turbines],” she said. “I’m a strong supporter of the environment, but I am against them. They should not be situated near dwellings.”
It’s not yet clear how much the powering down of both turbines will cost Falmouth. Town officials erected the pair to power the city’s wastewater plant and generate renewable energy credits. Town Manager Julian M. Suso said last week that the loss of revenue was not yet known, although he described it likely as “significant.”
Finances, though, seemed to weigh heavily on selectmen. Ms. Moran cited the cost of shuttering the turbines as well as the outstanding financial obligations to the Mass Clean Energy Center and the Mass Water Pollution Abatement Trust in her prepared statement.
Ms. Moran also asked on behalf of the board that the litigants behind any and all action in opposition of the turbines instruct their legal counsel to begin again settlement discussions with town hall.
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