Falmouth voters went to the polls in force yesterday, and delivered a mandate: do NOT take down the wind turbines.
A whopping 41% of registered voters turned out for town elections. And the vast majority voted not to appropriate funds for the removal of Wind-1 and Wind-2, the two town-owned wind turbines at the center of a controversy that pits clean energy advocates against neighbors who say their health is impacted by the turbines. The margin on Question 2 was 2:1, with 6,001 votes against the measure and 2,940 voting for it.
The decisive vote was a bit of a surprise given other recent votes and decisions. The town's Board of Selectmen have been unanimous and vocal in their support for taking down the turbines. Last month, town meeting members narrowly failed to get the 2/3 majority necessary to fund decomissioning the turbines. And the Zoning Board of Appeals has ruled one of the turbines a nuisance.
The $15 million question now is what other options the town has for addressing residents' complaints.
"I do feel very sorry for the folks who live around the turbines and how they're affected - with the noise, the flicker," said Laura Kelley, a Falmouth resident who voted against appropriating money to take down the turbines. "I do believe that something should be done to alleviate that, but I sort of believe that we should leave the turbines there, and leave them as a reminder that we need to be more careful going forward."
Technological fixes seem to be off the table, since they would void the manufacturer's warranty. Buying the homes of affected residents could be a possibility.
Malcolm Donald, one of the primary opponents of the wind turbines, says legal action is also a possibility.
"I feel I'm energized to continue the fight," he said after the vote. "This is not over. Nothing was resolved yesterday. There was no solution."