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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

Blowin Smoke January 06, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Mr. Cool refers to "public harm". But what exactly is the harm? This is very hard to pin down. Since sleep disturbance was identified as the primary complaint, and the turbines no longer operate at night, what's the problem? Instead of "harm", perhaps a better description would be: a swirl of exaggeration, hysteria, pre-existing conditions and hidden agendas - amongst a small handful of persistent complainants. In contrast to squirrely and unproven accusations of harm, the broad public benefits (in pollution, carbon emissions and fiscal gain) are well proven.
Bill Carson January 06, 2013 at 01:45 PM
Falmouth residents need to see this video on commercial wind noise and how it destroys the entire town http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBYjZG8O6qE The Falmouth residents living near the turbines lost their quality of life three years ago over noise issues. The residential home owners face large legal expenses to protect their property rights and the loss of the American dream.. Thousands of noise complaints and lawsuits about turbine noise and vibrations have cropped up in Falmouth, Fairhaven, Scituate and Kingston. The wind industry now deals with wind turbines noise and direct physiological impacts like rapid heart beat, nausea and blurred vision caused by the ultra-low-frequency sound and vibrations from the turbines. The CEO of the largest wind company in the world acknowledges low frequency noise and setbacks to residential homes.
mark cool January 06, 2013 at 02:08 PM
The argument about whether wind turbines produce infra and low frequency sound sufficient to cause adverse health effects has taken a big step forward. That infra and low frequency sound is a primary characteristic of wind turbine acoustic emissions and was established by the team of investigators in Shirley Wisconsin. The argument that infrasound produced by modern upwind wind turbines does not have sufficient amplitude to reach the threshold of hearing (set for steady pure tones, not the complex mix of tones emitted by wind turbines) raised by the wind industry through its experts, the many acousticians and other deniers, is now discredited. It (the Shirley Study -coupled with the McPherson Study performed in Falmouth - Dec 2011) are major steps forward. There still exists a 'need' to establish what levels and other characteristics of infra and low frequency sound are needed to produce adverse health effects, but the argument that it is not present is shown to be false. The wind industry and its supporters can no longer say that wind turbines do not produce significant levels of infra and low frequency sound just because the sound pressure levels do not rise to the thresholds of perception of audible sounds.
mark cool January 06, 2013 at 02:12 PM
“What you can’t hear, can hurt you”. As for Falmouth, the bylaw does nothing to address low frequency and infrasound. This is a terrible disservice to the public. The pro Wind 1/ 2 and Webb turbine advocates have, and continue to, essentially call residents liars, and that the negative health impacts they have experienced are not objective. However, unlike the some town officials, a private developer and the religiously "Green" community in town, these negatively impacted families do not have an agenda (other than wanting to enjoy their health and their property).
Bill Carson January 06, 2013 at 02:22 PM
In November Town Meeting Members voted 101-73 against an article that would have shut down the town’s turbines. They aren't getting all the facts about the wind turbines and what they are doing to the health of the residents. During World War II the German "ordinary citizens" were unaware of the crimes which were committed in their midst ,in their names and with their permission ? Stop the irresponsible placement of commercial megawatt turbines and widely publicize the evidence and educate the public to prevent atrocities. Thousands of complaints have been made and the beatings of the residents continue on until further notice.
robert January 06, 2013 at 02:35 PM
Blowin Smoke is the perfect beginning to a post full of hot air. Put Wind 1/2 in your back yard. Get real pal. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBYjZG8O6qE
Blowin Smoke January 06, 2013 at 03:17 PM
The only negative health effect of wind turbines is Psychogenic illness.. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21628850.200-the-sickening-truth-about-wind-farm-syndrome.html
Bill Carson January 06, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Massachusetts towns adopted a series of state model wind siting bylaws though big name Massachusetts conservation groups, a state university, a semi quasi state agency under the roof of the University of Massachusetts , one major law firm in Boston, Beacon Hill politicians that have gone on to work for wind turbine contractors and a state mandate to reach a certain renewable energy goal by 2020. Massachusetts Gov Patrick said: "If you want to see the future, come to Falmouth," The state,developers,local politicians all assured the communities that noise would not be problematic. Now thousands of complaints from megawatt turbine facilities emitting infrasound over the last three years shows what a tremendous blunder has been made. The people have to be removed from the exposure. It's long been known that the semi quasi state agency provided companies and resources to site commercial wind turbines. If the company gave favorable studies for siting it would be used again and again. The state has invested so much money in siting commercial wind turbines in back yards they can't admit a mistake of this magnitude . If they do it's time for an investigation . That's why the towns are stalling ! Who takes the blame ?
mark cool January 06, 2013 at 04:29 PM
The reference Blowin repeatedly cites begs the question about this Chapman fellow - what is Chapman's motivation? Why is it is that a tobacco lobbyist chooses to focus on this issue. Be that as it may... further investigation finds that his is a lobbyist (therefore prone to prejudice the TRUTH for $) and he is also only an academic, unable to properly analyze the area specific data. In fact, Due to the '40 pieces of silver', and the resulting generalization of applied science, he does the scientific community a disservice. The other question begging clarification - who might 'Blowin' actually be? Why the anonymity behind a pen-name.
robert January 06, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Thanks "Blowin Smoke" for this found within "the sickening truth about wind farm syndrome" which states no facts or studies. Pretty much says what these folks living near wind 1/2 have been saying. Thanks for supporting their position... http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-2199284/Wind-farms-Are-wind-farms-saving-killing-A-provocative-investigation-claims-thousands-people-falling-sick-live-near-them.html
Bill Carson January 06, 2013 at 05:07 PM
The nation is looking at what happened in Falmouth. The proposal to place 660 Kilowatt turbines then placing 1.65 megawatt turbines three times the original proposal. The purchase of those politically embarrassing turbines from the state semi quasi agency the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative now renamed the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC). Today a major Boston newspaper started reporting the negative side of commercial wind turbines. Thousands of complaints are being heard by the news media but fall on deaf ears of embarrassed politicians taken in by the wind turbine bunco scheme, http://www.windaction.org/opinions/36947 Opinions Public confidence compromised by wind bylaw rewrite 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."
Blowin Smoke January 06, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Professor Chapman's credentials are clear - Simon Chapman, PhD FASSA, is Professor in Public Health at the University of Sydney. He has published over 365 articles in peer reviewed journals and 14 books and major reports. His Public Health Advocacy and Tobacco Control: Making Smoking History was published by Blackwell (Oxford) in 2007. In 1997 he won the World Health Organisation's World No Tobacco Day Medal and in 2003 he was voted by his international peers to be awarded the American Cancer Society's Luther Terry Award for outstanding individual leadership in tobacco control. http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/simon-chapman-28112.html
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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