FALMOUTH – The Falmouth Board of Selectmen voted Monday night not to appeal a judge’s decision ordering the shutdown of the town’s two massive wind turbines.
“It’s time to put the matter behind us and move forward,” board Chairwoman Susan Moran said.
The decision not to appeal could put the town on the hook for payment of loans and grants from the state as well as dismantling costs. A past estimate put the cost at $14 million.
But appealing the judge’s decision would result in more legal expenses and uncertainty for the town, Moran said. “The litigation has divided the community and diverted resources,” she said.
Wind 1 and Wind 2, constructed at the local wastewater treatment plant, drew complaints from the neighborhood and resulted in several lawsuits soon after their blades began to spin in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
The town has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees for outside attorneys to handle much of the legal work related to the challenges; it also has lost revenue that was to come from the sale of electricity from the turbines.
In June, Barnstable Superior Court Judge Cornelius Moriarty upheld the decision by the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals to close Wind 2 and ruled that both turbines were a nuisance and ordered them shut down. Wind 1 had been shut down since a cease-and-desist order from the zoning board in September 2015. The zoning board had previously ruled Wind 2 a nuisance, but the selectmen appealed that decision in court.
Moran announced the decision to a crowd of more than 25 people after the board met behind closed doors before the start of its regular public meeting.
She noted that the selectmen considered the cost to take down the turbines as well as the effects on electricity, services and other resources but voted to move forward. The town began steps to take down the turbines immediately after Moriarty’s ruling, she said.
“The board remains committed to clean energy,” she said.
The board declined to hear public comment on the decision, saying it was not part of the agenda.
Moriarty’s ruling contradicted the decision by a Barnstable Superior Court jury in April that sided with the town, saying there was no nuisance at a Wind 1 neighbor’s property.
Several other lawsuits continue to work their way through the courts.
– Staff writer Christine Legere contributed to this report.
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