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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

mark cool January 06, 2013 at 06:54 PM
Falmouth has started to developed public awareness toward what the State ( & probably you) hoped they wouldn’t.  Public awareness will resolve the problem, and the gross injustice, of the adverse impacts of poorly sited wind turbines.  As truth becomes more widely known and acknowledged, Falmouth neighborhood relief will be realized. A National Public Radio interviewer commented: "Falmouth has changed everything."  Indeed it has! The obvious first step in achieving a solution is keeping it local.   It's forced the town, the press, and the public, to acknowledge the problem (Wind Turbine Option Process) -- rather than to deny it.  The more accounts of experiences in public -- and the more people like those “Falmouth Experience” veterans describe the ramifications of being subjected to such intrusion, ( which do include sleep deprivation, degradation of quality of life, devaluation homes) -- the more the arguments on the other side are revealed to be nothing more than false -- hollow -- abstractions. 
mark cool January 06, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Putting a human face on the problem and forcing the appropriate parties to acknowledge the legitimacy of our interests as members of the community has had profound effect. The neigh-sayers routinely dismisses, or devalues, first-person testimonials as mere anecdotal evidence or hysterics.  They claim that their arguments are "science based" and then they brandish the same 3 or 4 widely discredited studies that have been funded by AWEA or DOE. It is one thing to dismiss accounts from other Commonwealth communities as unreliable bits of information obtained by critics who troll the internet for any negative scrap of information. But it is quite another thing to dismiss their neighbors who have experienced the debilitating effect, and rises to say, "let me tell you what MY experience is like -- and allow me to ask you why you feel justified in doing this to me?" The surest road to winning back my health and enjoyment of my home is to win hearts and minds of elected officials, regulatory agencies, health and safety agencies, perhaps ultimately even judges.  Force them to listen. Forced them to respond and take action. A pissed off Citizen of the United States of America is something to behold!
Bill Carson January 06, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Professor Chapman's credentials are clear but what is his motivation : Professor Simon Chapman works for the University of Sydney. What's his motivation to say wind turbines don't make low frequency noise ? Here it is : http://sydney.edu.au/engineering/civil/wes/ The University of Sydney provides research in wind engineering and consulting- testing services in wind engineering. The Wind Engineering Services (WES) at the University of Sydney are a specialized branch of the Fluids group internationally recognized for its research and industrial consulting activities in the field of wind engineering. This guy is a clone of the sales people at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative that was housed under the roof of the University of Massachusetts ,Amherst ,Massachusetts . The same MTC that sold the five year old wind turbine to Falmouth.
sue hobart January 07, 2013 at 12:20 AM
WEBB TELEDYNE NOTUS is a for profit identicle turbine to the other 2... WHY does it continue to run unmitigated? It has justs as many complaints and people have had to leave their jobs in the industrial park because it made them sick. It has driven me and my husband out of our home we designed and built ourselves. We have never been given one minute of relief from the damnable thing and nobody will help us either. We have asked to discuss the problem and they say get a lawyer and pony up! This is no joke and completely wrong to take a persons health, wealth and quality of life for personal ( or municipal ) profit. There is no justice that cannot be bought if you have the money or clout in Falmouth.. My life is forever changed and not for the better. Blow your smoke talk your talk ... but until it happens to you personally you will never know the toll it is really taking on lives allover the WORLD, not just falmouth. 15 years from now we will be able to say hindsight is 20/20... right now the irrepairable damage is being done and justified out of convenient ignorance... It won't last forever though because this pain is REAL!!!!!!
Bill Carson January 07, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Do you think the mediation company can resolve the residential issues ? Here is a section of their website which does not mention the word residential any where on their website . The literature on their website looks like that are helping site wind turbines ? Check the quote : "The Consensus Building Institute (CBI), the MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program, and Raab Associates, Ltd. offer Facilitating Wind Energy Siting to state and local government officials, community members, wind developers, and other stakeholders. This three-day workshop focuses on developing the capacity to collaborate effectively on wind development policy, facility siting, and related is­sues including visual impacts, noise, credible data, local benefits and more." http://cbuilding.org/courses/facilitating-wind-energy-siting

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