Neighbors React to Town's Vote to Not Dismantle Wind Turbines

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By: Brent Runyon
Published: 05/24/13

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.

                                              Neil Andersen

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.”

7 Responses to "Neighbors React to Town's Vote to Not Dismantle Wind Turbines"

  1. Taking homes by eminent domain because the town is breaking the law with wind turbine noise ? Usually eminent domain happens prior to the building of commercial products. Class action litigation against the town looks like the recourse for many of the abutters to the wind turbine if the town decides to continue operating the turbines. The first thing to look at in a class action case is Class Action Certification . Go to court and ask to be paid for your homes. In the past three years much has changed . Three more towns Fairhaven, Scituate and Kingston residents are getting the same effects as the Falmouth residents. It is easy to demonstrable proof that a large group of people is involved in all four towns. The residential abutters are all have evidence and claims in common.One single law suit as a group would allow the matter to be resolved with a single class action case. The best way to resolve the wind turbine noise effect is Massachusetts Superior Court with one jury trial . Have the trial and come up with a settlement. The bottom line here is none of these people is going away and in fact the longer it goes on the more people will step up to the plate . Recently in Fairhaven the Massachusets Department of Environmental Protection announced they have known about noise violations with its commercial wind turbines since last November yet choose not to tell residents who have filed over 450 noise complaints. The state of Massachusetts has dragged its feet over the past few years in hopes of reaching its renewable energy goal of 2000 megawatts of electricity by the year 2020 . In other words the health of safety of the citizens of Massachusetts does not matter to our elected officials

  2. Falmouth installed the turbines with the intent to support the governor's initiative for clean energy with loans from state authorities following guidelines provided by the state adding additional margins for safety. The guidelines were wrong and continue to be wrong. Fairhaven has just been declared out of compliance just like Falmouth, and they are faced with the same problem. The state needs to reset the guideline, forgive the loans, and provide funds for removal. Continuing to insist that the widespread complaints have no merit will only stop other towns from repeating Falmouth's mistake, leaving the governor's initiative for clean energy in limbo.

  3. CONFUSION ABOUNDS regarding 'what' the Falmouth Question 2 Vote means. The vote was only to FUND the decommissioning and removal of the turbines. It's a misconception to believe the vote represents the citizenry's desire to keep the turbines. That isn't at all the case! The general consensus in the community acknowledge that the turbines are 'too big and too close' to residential neighborhoods. The vote result was ONLY the majority's rejection to spend $14M. It does in no way, shape or form, constitute a dismissal of the continuing concern and attention owed the problem. To believe the vote is a statement for our turbines, or against (for wind energy or against) is simply delusional and naive. They will come down. This is the Board of Selectmen's objective, after review of the WTOP report. The more accurate question now is... how? And here is where the State and the Governor owe Falmouth "some love."

  4. In March Kingston residents who abut their turbines, told Boston news stations that staying in their homes with the noise and strobe effects was “torture.” By definition, torture is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. Those most likely to be involved in torture include persons such as perpetrators may also include: health professionals and legal professionals In Massachusetts If you live within the shadow of a commercial wind turbine,did you know that you are no longer considered a “person”? You are anti-wind or you are painted as crazy or nuts by state officials hoping you'll just go away. It's clear the state is trading the health and property rights of the wind turbine abutters for the sake of cutting back of fossil fuels . Imagine living as an abutter to a wind turbine in Falmouth, Massachusetts. As the daily wind turbine torture they fear every time the wind blows. At Falmouth Town meeting people got up and said they drove through the wind turbine noise zone or they got out of their cars and couldn't hear anything. None of those town meeting members every stayed a couple of nights when the turbines blades were turning towards the homes. There are people in Falmouth living in their basements The Town Of Falmouth, Massachusetts made a mistake building commercial megawatt turbines too close to residential homes. The town will now vote to either take down the turbines or take up to 99 homes by eminent domain.

  5. WHERE IS JUDGE RUFFOS DECISION AT THIS POINT????????? He is a good judge and listened well but I fear politics and the governor may have gotten to him too... This ruling should have been made months ago. Let's get on with this torture chamber stuff so we residents can figure out a way to get on with our lives. Win Loose or draw we deserve at least that much! I realize the townspeople seem content to throw us under the bus but one would still want to assume we have some sort of rights to health and the maintenance of our property value and lifes equity. Otherwise why bother with a legal system? ( well apparently Falmouth doesn't ..) I thought government was for the people... well that seems like a pile of doodoo in Falmouth... sure is in my case... since I have an unrepentant millionnaire turbine Pharisee that drove me to abandon ship... I truly hate this stuff... so can we get on with the execution or whatever the hell you are up to do so we can just go on with our lives for Gods sake????? Nobody is getting any YOUNGER here! Our time here is finite... we can recover ..just open a door and let us run!

  6. let the homeowners pay to have the turbines removed if they dont like the noise

  7. cassickc... given that All taxpayers went in on the project (funding/bonding), why should the community's problem be solved by only the few? Your rational makes no sense. Applying you logic to the high school debacle, only those taxpayers having students in the school system would have been expected to pay. The wind turbines started as a community project. They have become a community problem. It should then be the responsibility of the community to fix the problem.

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