A neighbor of the town’s turbines e-mailed us last week to say that we have been misleading the public by stating in recent stories that Judge Moriarty ruled that the turbines were a nuisance to the Funfar property. A nuisance, he wrote, is generally thought of as a neighbor mowing the lawn on a Sunday morning, whereas Judge Moriarty defined nuisance not only as an inconvenience but also a danger. He attached a copy of the judge’s decision for our reference.

In fact, Judge Moriarty went into a good deal of detail in a five-page discussion of his findings and decision.

First, he pointed out that the Zoning Board of Appeals’ decision that the turbines constituted a nuisance could not be overturned, as the board would have had to have been unreasonable or on legally untenable grounds. The appeals board found that the turbines were a nuisance to the Funfars’ property because, based on a DEP sound study, they directly affected the health and well-being of the Funfars. “The decision here was hardly arbitraray and capricious,” Judge Moriarty wrote.

But the issue here, of course, is the definition of nuisance. Judge Moriarty pointed out that nuisance is difficult to define and, as much testimony as there was about sound levels, none of it applies to the definition because there are no numerical standards. “The issue is,” he wrote, “whether, on the facts found, the operation of the wind turbines was offensive because of injurious or obnoxious noise or vibration, a nuisance in violation of the by-law.”

He pointed out that, while the town argued that Mr. Funfar was hypersensitive to sound, “it is clear that he is no lone voice crying in the wilderness. Other residents of the neighboring area have registered similar complaints…”

The judge discussed the definition of “injurious,” at some length and concluded that “the physical effects of the turbine-generated sound upon Mr. Funfar have been certainly harmful and have tended to injure him.”

There should be no mistake among the residents of Falmouth; when the appeals board and Judge Moriarty called the town turbines a “nuisance,” they did not mean it in the way of ants at a picnic or a dog barking in the night.

(2) comments

MartyMcFly

Life experiences shapes our thoughts on what we like and dislikes. Live as a wind turbine neighbor first, before you decide. I did and this is an experience I never want to repeat.

blowin smoke

It's surprising to see a significant factual error in an Enterprise editorial. The editor states "..based on a DEP sound study, they directly affected the health and wellbeing of the Funfars."
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In 2012, DEP published two sound studies of Falmouth's wind turbines. These are acoustic (noise) studies and have nothing to do with health impacts. DEP found a slight noise exceedance at one home, late at night. The exceedance was eliminated in early 2012 by curtailing Wind1 at night.
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We do have state and local authorities charged with protection of public health. At the state level, we have the Department of Public Health (DPH), and locally we have Falmouth's Board of Health. DPH assembled a distinguished team of researchers and published a report "Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of Independent Expert Panel January 2012". An excerpt from the report's conclusions:

"There is no evidence for a set of health effects, from exposure to wind turbines that could be characterized as a "Wind Turbine Syndrome. The strongest epidemiological study suggests that there is not an association between noise from wind turbines and measures of psychological distress or mental health problems."
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Falmouth's Board of Health sent a pointed letter to selectmen and ZBA in October 2015. The letter included a summary of a massive Canadian government study which found "no association" between wind turbine noise and health or sleep impacts, after performing medical and noise testing in 1238 homes near huge wind farms. Some homes were as close as 250 meters from a turbine. The letter is available at: www.tinyurl.com/falmouthBOH
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Five Falmouth physicians co-signed a letter to the board of health, attributing turbine complaints to psychogenic effects and NIMBYism. The letter is at: www.tinyurl.com/mdwrote
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A distinguished professor of public health sent a letter to the board of health, presenting turbine complaints as psychogenic. www.tinyurl.com/boardofhealth
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Health is an important issue to everyone, which is why our society has public health professionals. Why is their input distorted or ignored when the topic is Falmouth's turbines?

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