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Falmouth selectmen respond to wind turbine removal order

Falmouth Board of Selectmen unanimously responded to Building Commissioner Rodman L. Palmer’s order to remove Wind 1 at its Monday, May 21, meeting, stating that the town will remove the turbine from its current location.

“Be advised that the town intends to dismantle and remove Wind 1 from its present site,” Town Manager Julian M. Suso wrote in a draft letter approved by selectmen on Monday.

Last December, following a complaint from Fire Tower Road resident Mark J. Cool, Mr. Palmer determined Wind 1 was a non-complying structure and ordered its removal. Citing the town’s Wind Energy System bylaw, any facility that fails to operate for 12 consecutive months is considered abandoned. The 400-foot-tall Wind 1 was last used in September 2015, after the Massachusetts Court of Appeals ruled the turbine needed a special permit from the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals in order to continue operation.

Mr. Palmer gave requested the Town of Falmouth submit to him a plan for its dismantling and removal by May 31.

The town hired engineering consulting firm Weston & Sampson to examine the options for future utilization, repurposing and reutilization options of Falmouth’s wind turbines.

“There is no option available to the town to consider any relocation of Wind 1 within the town of Falmouth,” Mr. Suso wrote. “There are multiple options available to the town with regard to the the possible relocation of Wind 1 to a new site, either within, or alternatively, outside of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

This includes the possibility of Falmouth benefiting from some of the power generated by the wind turbine after relocation, Mr. Suso said.

He said this will be a lengthy process, as state procurement regulations will need to be followed. This includes following state regulations should they transfer the title to another party and when the hire a contractor to dismantle and remove the wind turbine.

“This plan for the dismantling and removal of Wind 1 will require 18 to 24 months to responsibly undertake in a cost-effective manner on behalf of the taxpayers of Falmouth,” Mr. Suso wrote.

Both Mr. Palmer’s order and the town’s response specifically reference Wind 1. Wind 2, also located at the wastewater treatment plan off Blacksmith Shop Road, was not mentioned.

Wind 2 is approaching 12 consecutive months of non-use. It was shut down in June 2017 after Barnstable County Superior Court judge Cornelius J. Moriarty II upheld a zoning board of appeals decision deeming the turbines a nuisance.