FAMLOUTH — On Thursday night the Zoning Board of Appeals denied two appeals seeking to shut down the turbines located at the wastewater treatment facility on Blacksmith Shop Road.
During a hearing for a permit for one of the two turbines, the board heard testimony from acoustic engineers, one hired by neighbors of the turbines who filed the appeals, and another who was hired by the town.
The 397-foot turbine known as Wind 1 was built without a permit, after Building Commissioner Eladio Gore deemed one was unnecessary because the machine and its twin were being built on town land at the wastewater plant. Gore's finding was overruled by a state appeals court earlier this year, and Wind 1 was shut down until the town could acquire a permit.
So-called Wind 2 is spinning daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. only and is off completely on Sundays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
The noise from the turbines was an “acoustic trespass,” said Mike Bahtiarian, of Noise Control Engineering, who was representing residents who live near the turbines.
Bahtiarian’s findings that infrasound was noticeable inside a neighbor’s home were not established by standard noise methodology, said Christopher Menge, the town’s sound expert.
Menge compared the noise from the turbines to waves and said he found them pleasant. Residents, however, have said they often experienced headaches and lack of sleep.
“It is a very gentle weight on your chest or body cavity,” said the neighbors' lawyer Christopher Senie, adding that the Falmouth bylaws say there should be no adverse impacts.
The hearing for the permit was continued to Jan. 14 at 6:15 p.m.
After hearing testimony and taking public comment, the board then denied an appeal by Linda Ohkagawa, who had requested that a cease-and-desist order prohibiting the operation of Wind 2 be enforced by the zoning enforcement officer. The board also denied an appeal seeking the same for Wind 1 and Wind 2 filed by Elizabeth and Neil Andersen. The appeals were denied based on the “doctrine of laches,” a rarely used doctrine that is enforced when parties assert their claim after a long delay.
The neighbors had standing but hadn't filed their appeals quickly enough, Jerry Potamis, Falmouth's wastewater superintendent, said Friday.
There are nine active lawsuits related to the operation of the turbines.