SCITUATE - I live at the top of the hill on Third Cliff, across the road from the wind turbine at an elevated location. I have lived there for 34 years. When the turbine is operating, and the huge turbine motor is pointed at our house, in an eastern, northeastern direction, with the blades spinning behind it, the noise is propelled in endless, repetitive vibrations directly at our home.
Because of the land topography, the bowl shape of the Scituate Country Club and river valley, the sound is amplified. The conditions create an environment that makes the vibrations and motor noise from the turbine unbelievably loud. No one from the town has ever come into our home and listened, from inside, to the noise when the turbine engine is cranking.
We hear it during the day, at night, and during the late night hours, when there is little other noise, it is especially distracting. We hear it with the windows open or closed, at times the walls seem to reverberate. The turbine runs all night, every day, holidays, Christmas.
Other commercial operations close at these times, the turbine, when operational, doesn't stop. The noise continues, on and on. It is similar to having a running car parked in front of your home, the operator revving the engine, over and over, continuously, every second, for hours.
The Third Cliff neighborhood has abided for decades by the restrictions that the Scenic River Protective Order imposes on homeowners along the North River. Scituate allowed the restrictions, burdensome and costly, to control development, septic systems, landscaping, and house size along the cliff edge since it was enacted.
The area along the Driftway, the banks of the river, however, was exempted, to allow development, resulting in The Planned Development District, and siting of the water treatment and landfill/transfer station locations.
On top of that, much more recently, a commercial parcel was patched in to further allow the turbine and brush gathering (burning!) area. So while many Third Cliff residents conform to all of the environmental restrictions, they do not benefit from the tranquility and beauty the Scenic River Act was meant to preserve... We have noise, smoke, and odors emanating from the new zone, and a towering mechanism in our view.
As the health agent expressed to us, there is noise from traffic, from the train (we seldom hear it) and we tolerate the 6:30 a.m. mowing at Scituate Country Club, Sundays included. The world has noise in it, true. But this, as was acknowledged by Selectmen, is different. Turbine noise can be disruptive and disturbing as other towns on the South Shore have noted, namely Falmouth and Kingston, and the long-term health damage is an unknown.
For those reasons, Cohasset and Milton have turned turbine proposals away. If, as expressed by Selectmen, the town, even within their partnership with the owner, is willing to protect Third Cliff residents from the adverse effects of the noise, I'd be willing to help determine what best would remedy the disruption to so many residents' lives.
It has been reported that Scituate is producing an excess of alternative energy, then we could spare some, not to share, but to relieve the burden, shutting down the turbine when the noise is at its worst.
It is hurtful and distressing to hear the proponents brag about the function of the turbine when it is a major disruption here on Third Cliff. We don't deserve it.
Alternative energy sources are great when they don't adversely impact a long established neighborhood. Ironically, a neighborhood of environmentally aware residents, stewards of ecologically significant Rivermoor Beach and The Spit, committed to conservation, preservation and species protection, now suffer the impact of poorly sited alternative energy.
The turbine was ill placed, but now it is here, there needs to be a way to relieve the noise problem, an issue, which was not really mentioned until the thing was nearly up. You can't dispute what you don't know, but now we know what the benefits and the burdens of its operation are, the responsibility to find a way to make this machine less harmful lies with the town.
Valerie F. Vitali is a Scituate resident.