FALMOUTH – Requests to cover the cost of fending off lawsuits related to the two controversial wind turbines at the wastewater treatment plant have been regular items on annual town meeting warrants in Falmouth.
A Barnstable Superior Court judge put a permanent halt to the pair’s spinning in 2017, and local officials have since been searching for ways to recover some of the town’s investment.
As that discussion continues, town meeting members on Nov. 12 will be asked to tap $2.5 million in free cash to cover the cost of dismantling and storing the troublesome turbines until a way to dispose of them is found.
Nine lawsuits were filed by neighbors over alleged health-related problems caused by the turbines during the handful of years they operated.
Although Judge Cornelius Moriarty ruled that the pair could never operate again at the wastewater treatment plant on Blacksmith Shop Road, the selectmen initially considered looking at other town locations for at least one of the turbines.
Public pressure from turbine opponents put an end to that course of action, and in January, four of five selectmen voted never to let either structure operate again within Falmouth’s borders.
“This requested funding is the first step in the unfolding process to dismantle and potentially relocate both of the town wind turbines,” Town Manager Julian Suso wrote in an email. “The $2.5 million requested at this juncture is based upon analysis work conducted by consultant Weston & Sampson for dismantling and storage of both turbines.”
In June, the town received nine responses to a request for letters of interest in taking the turbines.
“As this process further unfolds, including an anticipated Request for Qualifications (or RFP), there may be further funding required,” Suso said. “We will have a further, expanded presentation at the upcoming November Town Meeting.”
Town meeting members will be asked to weigh in on 36 articles at the annual fall session.
Among the articles listed in the warrant include a half-dozen citizen petition articles, the proposed purchase of private property to ease public parking in Falmouth center, funding for staff and maintenance at the soon-to-open senior center and 11 suggested tweaks to the town’s charter.
Among $9.6 million in capital projects are a request for $2.3 million to address coastal erosion at Menauhant Beach and Chapoquoit Road, and $2 million to paint the water tank in the technology park.
Board members decided to recommend a petition article to adopt the stretch code, which requires that new construction in town be built to meet higher energy standards. During discussion, Selectman Samuel Patterson called the measure “long overdue.”
The selectmen do not oppose the idea of the various local veterans groups using space in a town facility to get together, but they voted to urge town meeting to indefinitely postpone action on a petition article submitted by Ahmed Mustafa, asking that veterans be allowed to lease the former senior center on Dillingham Avenue once the new center opens.
Patterson suggested that a veterans room in the new senior center might provide vets with more services. He also worried about how the group could maintain the building.
“I’d like to see a business plan,” Patterson said.
Selectman Douglas Brown said the veterans were partnering on the venture with Together We Can, and he believed they had put together an operational plan.
A petition article that would bar municipal departments from buying beverages in single-use plastic bottles and prohibit the sale of drinks in plastic bottles on town-owned land has the backing of the selectmen. Provincetown, Wellfleet, Harwich, Chatham and Orleans already have adopted such a ban, and it is on several warrants on the Cape this fall.
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