Falmouth Residents Seek Cease & Desist Order on Town-owned Turbine

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By: Brent Runyon
Published: 11/23/10

The town-owned wind turbine off Blacksmith Shop Road will have a full public hearing next week in which the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals will decide whether the turbine violates the town’s own zoning bylaws.

The hearing is scheduled as part of the regular meeting of the board of appeals on Thursday, December 2, at Falmouth Town Hall beginning at 6:30 PM.

Barnstable attorney J. Alexander Watt appealed the decision of Falmouth Building and Zoning Commissioner Eladio R. Gore, who determined in September that the turbine does not violate the town’s zoning bylaw.

Mr. Watt, who is representing Neil P. and Elizabeth L. Andersen of Blacksmith Shop Road, wrote in a letter to Mr. Gore that the turbine was never issued a special permit by the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals and should be shut down immediately.

Mr. Gore denied the request, stating that the town turbine is similar to other municipal projects such as water towers and reservoirs that are exempt from local zoning bylaws.

“I would further argue that a water tower, reservoirs, wind turbine or other municipal purpose would be considered by right uses, which would not require a special permit,” Mr. Gore wrote.

Board of Appeals Chairman Matthew J. McNamara said that even if the board of appeals determines Mr. Gore’s decision was incorrect, they do not have the power to issue a cease and desist order for the turbine.

It would be Mr. Gore, he said, who would have to issue such an order.

Attending the hearing and representing the town will be Mr. Gore, Town Planner Brian A. Currie, and Town Counsel Frank K. Duffy Jr., which indicates how serious the town takes this hearing, Mr. McNamara said.

Normally, when someone appeals the building commissioner’s decision, no one represents the town, he said.

Mr. McNamara has said publicly that in his opinion the town should not have bypassed its own zoning bylaw for the turbine.

Asked if he felt he could be impartial at the hearing, Mr. McNamara said he could be, but he would consult with the rest of the board and Mr. Duffy to see if he should recuse himself before the hearing.

There will be no testimony about noise complaints at the hearing, Mr. McNamara said, because it is not relevant to the issue of whether the turbine complies with the zoning bylaw.

If the board were to decide that the turbine does not comply with the zoning bylaw, Mr. McNamara said the town could either appeal that decision, or apply for a special permit from the board of appeals.

1 Responses to "Falmouth Residents Seek Cease & Desist Order on Town-owned Turbine"

  1. Opponents are invariably demonized as Nimby’s, outsiders, non-resident taxpayers (in locales with seasonal residents), alarmists, a “vocal minority,” global warming “denialists” and even, in our case, “vandals” and “the near lunatic fringe.” As you know, this is how lawyers and politicians are taught to argue: if you don’t have the facts on your side, you attack the credibility of your opponents. Change the debate from the issue at hand to the character of your opponent. The residents of Falmouth, Massachusetts are fortunate to have had so many dedicated and inquisitive residents in their midst who were willing to research the subject – and to take action to warn their neighbors, despite the negative blowback which they had to endure. Unfortunately, this seems to be an occupational hazard for anyone who dares to call attention to the fact that: a) these projects accomplish nothing useful in terms of reducing green house gas emissions; b) they are a blight upon the landscape and an environmental disaster for wildlife and human inhabitants, sowing misery and despair wherever they are installed; and c) they inevitably divide communities into bitter factions; and d) the tragic mistake of building them, once committed, is irreversible.

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