After years of running into roadblocks, residents who live near Future Generation Wind made some headway Wednesday night when the Plymouth Board of Health unanimously voted to declare the four turbines along Route 25 a nuisance.
“We want to do justice to this and to all the parties involved,” board Chairwoman Birgitta Kuehn said.
The board also unanimously voted to take action on the turbines within a reasonable time.
Up to 30 residents from Bourne and Plymouth crowded into the meeting room to complain again about how the turbines negatively affect their lives on a daily basis.
“It is amazing to me that these turbines were built in a residential area,” board Vice Chairman Barry Potvin said. “This is clearly something the Board of Health has to take up, because we are sworn to protect the health and safety of the people who live in this area.”
Much of what happened with the turbines came before many of the current members were serving on the board, member Jerry Levine said.
“I feel your pain,” Levine said. “My intention is to look into it.”
Residents have pleaded with several town boards in Bourne and Plymouth and with state officials for years for action to be taken on the turbines.
Residents first spoke with members of the Plymouth Board of Health in November 2016, a few months after the turbines started spinning, but were told at the time to seek help from the building department because Plymouth has zoning regulations for turbines.
Board member Nancy O’Connor Gantz last remembers residents coming to a hearing in 2017 to discuss how the state Department of Environmental Protection was going to do sound testing.
That was also the last time she remembers hearing about what was going on with the turbines.
“I think it is a travesty, an absolute travesty,” Gantz said.
The four 500-foot ConEdison Solutions wind turbines were installed in June 2016. They sit close to the Bourne border, but because they are located in Plymouth, it has been difficult for Bourne residents to fight through their own town government.
Since their installation, the Buzzards Bay Action Committee, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserve and protect Buzzards Bay, has collected approximately 360 complaints from residents in the area. Complaints include shadow flicker, nausea, vertigo, sleep disturbance, headaches, anxiety and sound disturbances.
“We have 360 complaints and they go unanswered,” Plymouth resident Larry McGrath said before the vote was taken. “Nobody does anything to protect us.”
McGrath, who lives on Lake Drive, told the board that town assessor records show about 30 people had moved from his street since June 2016. They were afraid of their home losing value and of the health risks, he said.
Members of the action committee said they believed the wind turbines were violating the state’s noise policy and Bourne and Plymouth bylaws.
Karen Gibides, who lives with her husband, John McMahon, on Morning Mist Lane, is one of the closest neighbors to the Future Generation Wind turbines. Their house is 1,450 feet from one of the turbines.
“We can’t afford to prove to you that scientifically the noise level is above the state limit, so instead I urge you, listen to me, to my husband, listen to my neighbors, listen to your hearts and minds,” Gibidies said before the vote. “Protect our health and well-being by shutting it off now.”
In October 2018, the Bourne Board of Health found the turbines were a nuisance and sent a letter to the Plymouth Board of Health, Planning Board, Board of Selectmen and Zoning Board of Appeals, which is responsible for licensing the turbines. No action had been taken since.
If the turbines are removed it would mirror what happened to the two turbines that were at the Falmouth wastewater treatment plant.
After residents in that town complained of the negative impacts from the turbines, a Barnstable Superior Court judge ordered in 2013 that neither turbine could spin again. The November town meeting voted to spend $2.5 million to dismantle the turbines.
The Falmouth turbines, however, were town-owned on town property. The Plymouth turbines are on private property and are owned by a private company.
Moving forward, members of the Buzzards Bay Action Committee plan to attend the Plymouth selectmen’s meeting Feb. 25 to further discuss the issue and possible next steps.
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