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Scituate residents go to court over wind turbine issues

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  January 2, 2013 02:37 PM

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The McKeever's home (point A) is located 640 feet from the turbine. Though not visible in this shot, the turbine is located in the patch of dirt to the southwest of the McKeever's house.

After months of going through town offices to seek relief from Scituate’s turbine, two Scituate residents have gone to court to try to shut down the turbine.

In a filing on Dec. 14, Mark and Lauren McKeever filed a complaint through Plymouth Superior Court, asking that the court remand the issue of the turbine operation back to the Board of Health.

In the filing, the McKeevers say that the board erred in letting the 400-foot tall industrial turbine remain turned on, even though it’s harming the health of residents.

The energy generator, located 640 feet from the McKeevers’ house, has been up since January and operational since March, and supplies half the town’s municipal power.

Despite the general popularity of the project, the McKeevers have been up in arms about a machine so close to their home, and say they have been experiencing health effects since the turbine went up.

“Since the Wind Turbine became operational in March 2012, the McKeevers and their two small children have been continually suffering from symptoms including, but not limited to, sleep disturbances, headaches, nausea, dizziness, extreme fatigue, anxiety, tinnitus, and difficult concentrating,” the McKeevers’ attorney wrote in the complaint.

Several residents along the eastern side of the turbine also complained of problems, and in September, those residents and the McKeevers started meeting with the Board of Health to address a slew of issues.

Despite meeting on an almost monthly basis since then, and despite a Board of Health proposal to turn the turbine off, board members voted to keep the turbine operational.

Instead, a Steering Committee has been formed to develop studies looking at the noise and shadow flicker of the machine. That committee met for the first time in December, though no studies have yet been initiated.

The progress hasn’t been enough for the McKeever family, which is asking that the court dismiss the Board of Health’s initial vote to keep the turbine on and remand the issue back to the board for further consideration.

The McKeevers have also requested that the town pay for damages and attorney fees in an amount yet to be determined.

According to Tayna Trevisan, the McKeevers’ attorney, it is up to the court when the issue will move forward.

“It depends on the court scheduling,” Trevisan said. “It’s in their hands at this point. The record needs to be assembled and we’ll go into the review of it.”

Trevisan didn’t have any further comments about the filing.

Jim Toomey, counsel for the town, said his firm formally accepted the case on Dec. 28, and the town has 20 days to file a response of papers.

“We will be filing something in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

In the meantime, the Steering Committee will continue to meet, developing a scope of study to look at the turbine and eventually hiring a firm to conduct said study.

Due to the lawsuit, however, Board of Health Director Jennifer Sullivan and Board of Health member Michael Vazza have so far abstained from commenting during the meeting proceedings.

Despite the previous meeting, Sullivan said that both she and Vazza have been authorized to speak going forward.

"We’re free to speak at this point," she said. "[And] I do have some questions I would like to ask."

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