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Falmouth ZBA Again Finds Turbines are Nuisances

December 7, 2013

“GENE M. MARCHAND/Falmouth ENTERPRISE – Two of Falmouth’s wind turbines, one at the Falmouth Wastewater Treatment Facility (left) and the other at the Falmouth Technology Park, as viewed from the Chapoquoit Beach parking lot.”

Will the town sue its ZBA again about the wind turbines playing havoc with the health of nearby residents? That is the question now that a unanimous decision on 12/5/13 agreed with Barry and Diane Funfar’s appeal of a Building Commissioner ruling. According to the Cape Cod Times, Eladio Gore determined the turbines were not a nuisance, following a complaint filed in April.

In Sean Driscoll’s reporting “Another win for turbine abutters” (12/7/13),

Wind turbine opponents scored another victory this week when the Zoning Board of Appeals agreed once again that Falmouth’s municipal turbines are a nuisance to nearby residents.

The ruling means the town is ordered to take whatever steps are necessary to remove the nuisance caused by the turbines, which are located at the town wastewater treatment plant on Blacksmith Shop Road. Thursday’s meeting was a continuation of Funfar’s hearing, which initially began in September, said Zoning Administrator Sari Budrow.

Barry Funfar is one of the sponsors of Article 23 to delay restart of turbines pending sound studies

Photo by Virginia Irvine

The Funfars are West Falmouth residents whose issues range from loss of enjoyment of their property to exacerbation of Barry Funfar’s Vietnam War-related PTSD, to devaluation of their property. The reduced valuation seemed to be a deciding factor, according to Sam Houghton’s report in the Falmouth Enterprise (“Falmouth ZBA Rules Wind Turbines Are Nuisance at Ridgeview Avenue Home” 12/6/13).

“Just the history of the assessed value that I see here convinces me that there is a real impact on Mr. Funfar’s property because of the proximity to the turbines,” said board member Kenneth H. Foreman. The appraisal also stated that all sales within a half a mile of either Wind 1 or Wind 2 are affected in the same negative way.

While some of the discussion revolved around Town Counsel Duffy’s advice to discount symptoms that could relate to pre-existing conditions:

Town counsel Frank K. Duffy Jr. did not doubt that Mr. Funfar suffered, but he urged the board to vote in compliance with Massachusetts state law, which discussed pre-existing conditions. “It is too difficult to separate the symptoms caused by the pre-existing condition and the symptoms caused by the noise complaint.” A nuisance, he said, must be a nuisance under all circumstances.

Chairman of the board, Matthew J. McNamara, did not agree with Mr. Duffy. “I want to remind the board that one of the purposes of the bylaw is to protect the welfare, health and safety of all town residents.” We should be more inclusive than exclusive, he said. Those with pre-existing conditions should not be excluded when making appeals to the town about nuisances, he added.

In his press release about the hearing (“ZBA Again Decides Falmouth Wind Turbines a Nuisance”), Malcolm Donald reported that health effects were also considered.

Submitted as testimony were four letters from of Veterans Administration doctors addressing Mr. Funfar’s health degradation since the Falmouth Turbines became operational since March of 2010.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 7, 2013 12:54 pm

    “The time for the town to fight the neighbors and fighting it’s Zoning Board is through. It’s time to dispute state immunity on this extremely costly community matter. The siting of industrial wind turbines too close to residents cannot be one in which the state simply asserts its “Common Good” authority over Falmouth. The fundamental factor underlying Falmouth’s defense, if not obvious from ZBA proceedings, is the scientific and medical community’s inability to accurately access harm in a manner which is uniformly safe and responsible for Falmouth, let alone the common good.”

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