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Turbine removal to be put to Falmouth voters

Voters in Falmouth will get their say on whether to tear down two town-owned wind turbines that some consider health hazards.

On Wednesday, Town Meeting approved a motion that sets a townwide vote on the issue for May.

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That decision came only a day after Town Meeting refused to authorize spending $14 million to tear down the turbines.

The motion approved on Wednesday asks whether the town should spend the money needed to remove the turbines, said Kevin Murphy, chairman of the Board of Selectmen. Even if voters say the town should ­remove the turbines, that spending cannot happen unless Town Meeting changes its Tuesday decision.

But Murphy said the May vote will at least indicate what the people want.

The mental and physical ailments critics blame on the turbines range from headaches and vertigo to severe depression. National wind energy ­advocates say no credible science has linked such problems to turbines.

Turbine opponents said that if they win in the townwide vote, that could pressure some Town Meeting members to switch sides and authorize the spending to remove the turbines. Seven votes would have changed Tuesday’s outcome.

Both turbines are located at the town’s waste-water treatment facility; the first began running in 2010.

Noise complaints eventually led the town to shut the blades down for 12 hours at night.

Supporters said there is strong, silent support for the turbines and the energy and revenue they produce.

A vote to remove the turbines would make Falmouth the country’s first community to do so, and renewable energy advocates worry that would set a precedent.

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