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Health board hopes to hold hearing ‘when feasible’ on wind turbines

PLYMOUTH – The wind turbines are still spinning in South Plymouth, but the Board of Health has not forgotten them. The town group continues to study the issue and collect data regarding neighbor complaints about excessive noise and other disruptions.

Members unanimously voted Wednesday to hold a public hearing “when feasible” – that is, when the state of emergency is lifted and the threat of the coronavirus has passed.

“We need to have a public forum with all parties present to discuss this,” said member Barry Potvin. “It will take some time, so please be patient. In the meantime, we will continue to gather information.”

The health board heard from Plymouth and Bourne residents who live near the wind turbines over the winter about how the power-generating units are excessively noisy and pose a health hazard. At that time, the board labeled the equipment a “public nuisance” and stated it would investigate the complaints.

However, the pandemic and legal action threatened by the owners of the wind turbines have slowed that review. Future Generation Wind, a subsidiary of the Con Edison utility, claimed it had not been provided with an opportunity to address allegations against it in a public meeting.

In a letter to the town’s Department of Public Health dated May 28, Future Generation Wind said it “anticipates appearing before the Board once in-person hearings resume to present relevant and valuable information regarding its wind energy facility.” The letter was signed by James J. Dixon, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the company.

The letter went on to say the firm “requests that the Board rescind its public nuisance declaration so as to permit FGW a full and fair hearing on the evidence and the merits prior to any such adjudication being made.”

The Board of Health said it plans to hold a meeting and invite all parties to present information. However, it took no action on the request to rescind the declaration.

“I’d like to point out that we were not the first to declare this project a public nuisance,” Potvin said. “The Bourne Board of Health did so before us.”

Located on the Bourne border, the wind turbines have been a source of complaints by neighbors since they became operational in 2016. Residents in Plymouth and Bourne have protested noise levels and flickering lights caused by the unit’s large rotating blades before boards in both towns.

No date has been set yet for a public hearing. That will depend on when state officials decide to lift the ban on public gatherings and local officials believe it is safe for people to meet again.