Letter to the Editor: Public Confidence Compromised by Wind Bylaw Rewrite
Falmouth Resident Mark Cool weighs in on a town bylaw rewrite regarding wind turbines in a letter to the editor.
The turbine bylaw, as adopted by Falmouths Planning Board, has a significant flaw that supersedes any I’ll address at the board’s public hearing February 5th. The wind turbine bylaw can be found here.
I draw attention to:
§240-166 D. Exceptions
Any provisions or requirements of this Chapter to the contrary notwithstanding:
1. Any WES in existence as of the effective date of this Article shall be considered conforming and may apply for a special permit under this Article to alter, modify, re-locate, or otherwise make improvements consistent with Article XXXIV (34).
We should be aware that bylaws are enacted to help towns manage and control development by minimizing conflicts between abutting land uses. We should also be aware that bylaws are part of a community’s foundation in that they provide decision-making rules and guidance for Falmouth officials and boards. Yet, as written, the wind turbine bylaw “grandfathers” the municipal wind turbines. In doing so, the board categorically accepts them as conforming.
The prolonged chaotic community debacle surrounding these two turbines has brought Falmouth to a “breaking point”. We cannot afford to adopt a wind bylaw that “looks the other way” and sanctions the “kicking of the can” further down the road.
Many in Falmouth town government have been inclined to ‘down-play’ the devastating health plight of local residents. Town official chose to promote the turbines for their financial and ‘green’ benefit. The required night time curtailment protocol has nullified those expected benefits. The justification from Town Hall for the turbines has dramatically changed. The benefit has mistakenly become a liability. Simply stating the town’s case -- “it’s just not possible to afford not to operate them.”
It’s curious that this exemption wasn’t in the Planning Board’s first bylaw petition to November Town Meeting. It’s curious the board should make this exception when the same financial implications existed then. Should Falmouth weaken their wind turbine bylaw to permit turbines known to cause the public harm? After all, wind turbine complaints persist, even with the night operation curtailment.
If true to the intended mission of their work, the Planning Board should not alter rules, grant waivers or create amendments to protect a project, whether already existing or having future development potential. Especially if the existing project (Wind 1 & 2) carries with it a continuing record of harm perpetrated upon residents.
From a political, social and ethical point of view, section “§240-166 D. Exceptions” should be struck, in it’s entirety, from the Planning Board’s adopted re-revised Wind Turbine bylaw.
Mark J. Cool Falmouth