FALMOUTH – One of two town-owned wind turbines is reaching the end of its long and contentious career.
Wind 1, erected at the wastewater treatment plant in 2010 and measuring 400 feet from base to blade tip, will not spin again in Falmouth – although it may someday churn out energy elsewhere.
In a letter expected to arrive on Falmouth Building Commissioner Rod Palmer’s desk Thursday, Town Manager Julian Suso states “there is no option available to the town to consider any relocation of Wind 1 within Falmouth.”
Suso supplied the Times with a draft of the letter Wednesday.
Palmer had written to the selectmen in December, saying Wind 1 did not comply with town zoning bylaws and had to be dismantled and removed from its present location on Blacksmith Shop Road.
He gave the selectmen until May 31 to provide him with a plan of action.
Wind 1 has not operated since 2015, when it was denied a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Suso’s letter, approved by the selectmen earlier this week, goes on to say the town still has the option of relocating the turbine elsewhere in Massachusetts or beyond the state’s borders.
Officials will continue to work with consultants, as the process will likely involve state procurement laws when it comes to title transfer for the turbine and to the hiring of a contractor to dismantle and move the mammoth structure, Suso says in the letter. The process will likely take 18 to 24 months, Suso says.
Barry Funfar, one of a handful of neighbors who filed lawsuits against the town over the nuisance caused by the turbines, called the plan for Wind 1 “good news” and “the logical progression.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing this thing in the rearview mirror,” he said.
Wind 2, erected in 2012 and shut down by a Barnstable Superior Court judge June 20, 2017, is not part of the plan being submitted to the building commissioner.
Judge Cornelius Moriarty had pronounced the two turbines a nuisance and ordered them to remain permanently shut down.
Now that Wind 1’s future has been settled, at least on paper, Funfar said he and his neighbors will push for a similar fate for Wind 2.
George Goodwell, a member of the Green Center, which is pushing to overturn Moriarty’s ruling in state Appeals Court, called the town’s plan for Wind 1 a big mistake.
Dismantling the turbine and removing it from the site while a court appeal is pending makes no sense, Goodwell said.
“The town should be keeping its possibilities open,” Goodwell said. “Closing them off makes it much more difficult to back up if they have to.”
The Green Center expects to have a decision from the Appeals Court soon, Woodwell said.
Turbine neighbor Mark Cool, a resident of Fire Tower Road, prompted the action taken by the building commissioner in December by sending a letter requesting enforcement of the town’s bylaws.
While noting he was glad the selectmen decided to comply with the commissioner’s directive, “my concern as a community member is why there wasn’t further discussion about repurposing the turbine,” Cool said Wednesday.
Cool noted that the board had asked the public to submit suggestions for repurposing in January, after a resident suggested the blades could be removed and the base used as a cell tower.
The selectmen said suggestions would be reviewed by officials and the engineers they hired. The issue has not been raised since, he said.
“Taxpayers are owed some explanation as to why repurposing isn’t possible,” Cool said.
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