FALMOUTH – A neighbor of Falmouth’s two controversial wind turbines is invoking a town bylaw and demanding that the building commissioner order Wind 1 dismantled and removed.
Wind 1, a 400-foot, town-owned turbine constructed on the wastewater treatment plant property in 2010, has been shut down since 2015, after being denied a special permit by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Mark J. Cool, who lives on Fire Tower Road, filed his complaint with Building Commissioner Rod Palmer on Dec. 7.
In his complaint, Cool argued the turbine had been shut down for more than 12 consecutive months. Under the town’s wind energy systems bylaw, the machine’s “dormancy” meets the abandonment criteria, he said.
The bylaw lays out the special permitting process as well as requirements under a wind energy system special permit.
The intent of the bylaw is clear, Cool wrote in his complaint. The lack of a special permit due to the Zoning Board’s permit denial should not exempt Wind 1 from its provisions, he wrote.
“I’m trying to be a good citizen and act on what the provisions of the zoning code say,” Cool said Friday.
Cool is one of the plaintiffs in a few turbine-related suits filed against the town, he said. Some of those are still outstanding, including one seeking monetary damages.
While removing the turbine from the site would doubly ensure it will never again be a neighborhood nuisance, Cool said his motivation for the enforcement complaint was based on the town’s bylaw.
“Right now, the way it is, the turbine is in conflict with the zoning bylaw,” he said.
The complaint has been forwarded to Town Counsel Frank Duffy, who wrote in an email Friday that he has until Thursday to provide a response.
Duffy offered no comment other than to confirm he is reviewing the complaint.
Wind 1 went online in 2010 and Wind 2 began operating in February 2012. Their operation drew intense opposition from neighbors, who said they were experiencing turbine-related health issues. Several neighbors filed lawsuits to get the turbines shut down.
Wind 1 has been shut down since 2015 when it was denied a special permit by the Zoning Board of Appeals. Wind 2 was ordered permanently shut down in June by Barnstable Superior Court Judge Cornelius Moriarty, who deemed the operation of the two turbines a nuisance to neighbors.
Selectmen decided not to appeal the decision, but a citizens group called the Green Center attempted to intervene and get Moriarty to adjust his order for a full shutdown. Last month, Moriarty denied that attempt, saying the citizens group had no standing in the case.
Falmouth officials have estimated the shutdown of the two wind turbines will cost about $10.5 million.
That amount includes $4.62 million left in debt on the construction of Wind 1, $2.9 million for the loan on Wind 2, $1.4 million to $1.8 million for electricity to operate the wastewater treatment plant over the next 12 years, and $1.65 million owed to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center over the next 15 years in place of renewable energy credits.
Although there is not yet a firm cost estimate for dismantling and removing the two turbines, Town Manager Julian Suso recently said it will probably be “in excess of $1 million.”
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