Building Commissioner Rodman L. Palmer determined that the town’s wind turbine, Wind 1, is a non-complying structure and needs to come down.
Fire Tower Road resident Mark J. Cool argued that the turbine had been abandoned, citing Falmouth’s wind energy system bylaw, which states “Absent notice of a proposed date of decommissioning, the WES (Wind Energy System) shall be considered abandoned when the facility fails to operate for more than 12 consecutive months.”
“Wind 1 has been dormant since 2015. The existing and current bylaw states 12 consecutive months of non-use calls for removal. It meets the town’s definition of abandonment,” Mr. Cool said.
The approximately 400-foot-tall Wind 1, located at the wastewater treatment plant on Blacksmith Shop Road, has not been operating since September 2015, after the Massachusetts Court of Appeals ruled the turbine needed a special permit from the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals in order to continue operation.
“The clear intent of the wind energy system bylaw is that not having a special permit should not exempt Wind 1 from conditions of the current and governing WES bylaw,” Mr. Cool wrote in his complaint.
In a December 19 response to Mr. Cool, Mr. Palmer agreed that Wind 1 is a non-complying structure.
“I presently intend to direct the Town of Falmouth to prepare and submit to me a plan for its dismantling and removal from its present location and request that the plan be submitted by May 31, 2018,” Mr. Palmer wrote.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Susan L. Moran said the board will discuss the matter at its January 2 meeting.
“The selectmen appreciate the building inspector responding to the litigants asking for enforcement. We will get it right, finding the solution that is most economically feasible and efficient for the town,” Ms. Moran said.
This decision does not impact Wind 2. Wind 2 was shut down in June, after Barnstable County Superior Court judge Cornelius J. Moriarty II upheld a zoning board of appeals decision deeming the turbines a nuisance.
“Twelve consecutive months on Wind 2 won’t be until June 2018. There is a lot of things that can happen between now and June of 2018,” Mr. Cool said. “It could fall under the bylaw if it is not used within 12 months. That criteria forces removal. Come June 2018, if the turbine hasn’t turned, I guess myself or someone else who is a resident of Falmouth will put in a request regarding Wind 2.”
Mr. Cool put in his request using the town’s confidential complaint form. The form is available on Falmouth’s website, and can be used by residents to report alleged violations of the town’s zoning bylaws.