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Scituate selectmen don't support proposal to shut down wind turbine

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  March 18, 2013 06:45 PM

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A proposal to take down Scituate’s controversial wind turbine, promoted by residents who live nearby, will head to Town Meeting without the support of selectmen.

Town officials voted unanimously 4-0 not to support the petition article, which came before them during a March 12 meeting.

Residents have been railing against the turbine since it was turned on in March 2012, saying that the noise and shadow flicker are negatively affecting their health.

Despite the complaints, selectmen said they would rather wait to see the results of a study that the Board of Health is overseeing on the noise before making any decisions.

“Let’s wait until we find out what the report says,” said Selectman John Danehey said. “If the town is in violation, we should shut it down … I think we’re jumping ahead of ourselves at this point.”

Danehey conceded to residents that he too could hear the noise, could detect the “whoosh” noise from the Scituate Country Club, could hear the machine from the golf course, but if the town mandated to take the machine down before they were sure the noise was excessive, there could be problems.

“We know there is noise, we know there is flicker. The question is, is it within the limits it’s supposed to be?” Danehey said. “Until [a study is done to find out], then the town is exposed…if we mandate to shut it down or take it down, [we could] go into a legal battle.”

Although the warrant article was not supported by selectmen, because the petition gained the requisite number of signatures, the question will head to Town Meeting floor.

Even if Town Meeting votes to take the turbine down, Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi said the vote is not binding.

“If town meeting votes, that response would weigh heavily with people voted to elect members of the town,” she said.

Regardless of the direction, town officials warned of shutting the turbine down before its time.

According to Department of Public Works Director Albert Bangert, the town is obligated to purchase all the power the turbine produces for 15 years, approximately $300,000-$400,000 a year.

Residents suggested that the town look to the state for financial forgiveness to help shut the turbine down.

Scituate resident Mark McKeever, who lives closest to the turbine, also suggested that the town didn’t need a study to specifically see the flicker effects, and the turbine should be shut down without pending one.

“Everything is flawed here,” he said.

Town meeting will vote on the turbine petition on April 9.

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