Neighbors React to Town's Vote to Not Dismantle Wind Turbines
By: Brent Runyon
In the wake of Tuesday’s vote on Question 2, neighbors said the town will either have to purchase their homes or remove the turbines, with no room for compromise.
“Obviously the town wants to keep the turbines up and somehow deal with the abutters,” said Neil P. Andersen of Blacksmith Shop Road, who has filed a lawsuit, a nuisance complaint and been one of the most vocal opponents of the turbines since Wind 1 started turning more than three years ago. “Well, let’s do it. Deal with us. If you’re going to buy my house, do it. Let me put an end to this hell.”
His home is assessed at $525,400 by the town.
Mr. Andersen said he thought the vote to remove the turbines would be closer, but he is resigned to the fact that residents did not support raising taxes to remove the turbines.
Two weeks ago, Mr. Andersen scored a victory in the turbine debate when the majority of Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals members agreed that noise from the turbines is a nuisance, but since that time the turbines have continued to run from 7 AM to 7 PM. “What really bothers me is that the turbines are still going to turn,” he said.
Mr. Andersen said he cannot tolerate the turbines running for even a limited amount of time each day. “I just need a conclusion to this thing,” Mr. Andersen said. “The psychological stress is just unbelievable.”
Obviously the town wants to keep the turbines up and somehow deal with the abutters. Well, let’s do it. Deal with us. If you’re going to buy my house, do it. Let me put an end to this hell.
But J. Malcolm Donald of Ambleside Drive, West Falmouth, said the vote Tuesday did not weaken his resolve to get the turbines removed.
“This shows the inequity and unjustness of what has been done,” said Mr. Donald. “I am energized. I will take a little breather here and then continue to fight for whatever length it takes to prevail.”
He said he would not sell his home to the town. “I don’t want to leave. Why should I leave? I was here first,” Mr. Donald said.
The vote on Tuesday brought no solution to the wind turbine issue, which will continue to divide town, he said. The turbines cannot run at night and will continue to lose money, he said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take and I don’t know how long the voters are going to be satisfied with losing money,” he said.
The Falmouth wind turbine problem will also be a black mark on the wind industry both locally and internationally in the years ahead, he said. He compared the turbines to the odor that came from the wastewater treatment plant, which took 15 years of neighbors’ complaints for the town to resolve the problem.
Kathryn L. Elder of Blacksmith Shop Road said she thought it was unlikely that Question 2 would pass. She interpreted the vote as a rejection of town government and spending money, not a rejection of neighbors’ concerns or the turbines’ impact on their lives.
It is now in the board of selectmen’s court, she said. “Where do we go from here? We have to find a way to solve this problem,” she said. Whatever solution that the selectmen choose will cost millions of dollars, she said.
The turbines cost about $800,000 a year to run in debt payments, operations and maintenance cost, she said, and only gross about $500,000 through limited operations. She asked how long residents be willing to subsidize the turbine operations. The turbines are now out of warranty and money for repairs will have to come from the operating budget or some other source, she said.
Even if Question 2 passed, Ms. Elder said she would not have viewed it as a time to celebrate. “This whole thing has been very destructive for our community and I see it just continuing to fester,” she said.
Ms. Elder said she and other neighbors have appealed to every possible authority for help. She said she is hopeful that Barnstable Superior Court Judge Robert C. Rufo will rule that the town should not have put up Wind 1 without a special permit from the zoning board of appeals. “Hopefully the judge is going to make his ruling and our basic rights to health, welfare, and property will be preserved,” she said.
“The problem is so simple,” Ms. Elder said. “The turbines are too big to be that close. I think it makes more sense to move the turbines than to move the people.”