BOURNE — For neighbors of the Future Generation Wind turbines who have been complaining to town and state officials about the effects of the four 500-foot tall turbines, things have been looking bleak.
They have said the turbines have robbed them of their sleep, their health, and the enjoyment of their property, to no avail.
They failed in their attempt at a preliminary injunction against the ConEdison Solutions-owned turbines. They tried to get the turbines shut down by town boards in both Bourne and Plymouth, but failed. And they have tried in vain to get the state Department of Environmental Protection to conduct sound testing.
But the recent development in Falmouth, where a judge ordered the town’s two wind turbines at the municipal wastewater facility to be powered down because they constitute a nuisance, is a positive development.
“It’s definitely a ray of hope for us,” said Ian Davies of Plymouth, a neighbor of the turbines. Davies was the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit filed by a group of private citizens against Future Generation Wind and the town of Bourne.
“I think what it’s done is it’s reinvigorated us,” Davies said. “We feel we now have a fair chance, or good chance, to shut these down.”
Although they say it doesn’t happen all the time, several neighbors have said the turbines can sound like a airplane that’s flying overhead but never lands.
And even though they have hope, the situations are different. The Falmouth turbines were town-owned on town property. The Plymouth turbines are on private property and are owned by a private company. They sit close to the Bourne border, but all of them are located in Plymouth, making it hard for residents of Bourne to fight through their own town government.
The Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals also ruled that the turbines in their town were a nuisance, something that neither Plymouth nor Bourne has done. The Bourne Board of Health filed a lawsuit against Future Generation Wind, claiming that the turbines must adhere to Bourne’s bylaws, but that suit was rejected by a judge in Barnstable Superior Court.
“We need one of the towns’ entities to document the nuisance,” said Karen Gibides of Buzzards Bay, one of the closest neighbors to the turbines. Fighting ConEdison, instead of a town, is a monumental task, she said, and many don’t have resources for a long legal battle. “It’s an awfully big nut to crack.”
But that hasn’t doused the confidence of Larry McGrath, an attorney and neighbor of the Plymouth turbines.
“We are certainly heartened by Judge Moriarty’s ruling,” he said. “If the Falmouth ones are a nuisance, these are certainly a nuisance.”
But these things don’t happen overnight, Davies pointed out, and the Buzzards Bay Citizens Action Committee — as the Bourne neighbors have dubbed themselves — don’t plan to give up.
“It took (the Falmouth neighbors) seven years,” Davies said. “We’re going to continue what we have to do.”
The turbines are currently undergoing sound testing as a condition of the special permit under which they approved. That testing may continue into the fall, depending on weather conditions, a DEP spokesman said.
The Buzzards Bay Citizens Action Committee is scheduled to meet later this month to plan how to continue their fight.
ConEdison has maintained that the company has met all of the guidelines set forth by the town of Plymouth, but declined to comment for this story.