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Fate of Scituate wind turbine uncertain, after hearing with judge

Posted by L. Kim Tan  January 14, 2013 04:05 PM

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A Brockton Superior Court judge will decide whether the Scituate wind turbine should continue to operate, after hearing arguments Monday afternoon from lawyers representing the town’s Board of Health and a local family who complain of ill effects from the spinner.

Tanya Trevisan, an attorney for the McKeever family, said it has suffered a good deal of stress since the power-generating machine was turned on in May -- including sleepless nights and headaches due to shadow flicker from its spinning blades.

Trevisan said that despite the McKeevers’ appeal to the Board of Health about the issues, the turbine has remained on. The family subsequently filed for a temporary restraining order on Friday seeking that the turbine be shut down.

"We've continually asked the Board of Health to address these issues, and the Board of Health has been indifferent to the pleas of the McKeevers," Trevisan said.

John Davis, an attorney representing the Board of Health, said the panel is looking into the matter and is in the process of determining what should be studied to proceed with its next steps.

"Let's get the studies, let's see if there are violations there. To go to the court ... is inappropriate," he said.

Davis pointed out that the reason the town – and not Scituate Wind, the turbine’s owner -- was defending itself in court is that the McKeevers signed a $20,000 agreement with Scituate Wind before the turbine was erected not to oppose the machine.

If the McKeevers’ permission could be sought with money then, Davis argued, it seemed unlikely that the turbine could be causing "irreparable harm" now.

"There are 16 conditions in [the special] permit. Nobody here is saying that Scituate Wind has violated the conditions in their permit. So unless and until you can show that, you can't prevail," Davis said.

The judge said he would be taking the matter under advisement.

Jim Toomey, attorney for the town, said it was unlikely a decision would be rendered Monday.

The court case has caught the eye of several Falmouth Wind opponents and proponents, who attended the Monday hearing.

Tom Thompson, who represents a group of Scituate residents who say they are also suffering from the turbine, also attended the hearing.

Thompson wouldn't speculate how the case might go, but said the focus needs to be shifted back to the health effects and away from the financial repercussions of turning the turbine off.

"Clearly the town, even members of the Board of Health, has been primarily focused on the economic impacts of the town. There hasn't been enough concern regarding the health-related impacts of anybody," Thompson said. "it's been a dollars-and-cents discussion so far."

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